Talk radio is about to get a whole lot smarter, but it took a local TV icon to get us there.

Bill Buckmaster recently ended a 23-year run as host of “Arizona Illustrated” on KUAT’s Channel 6.

Now the guy who was a fixture on your TV screen is headed back to his roots in radio.

“The Buckmaster Show” launches at 9 a.m. Monday on KJLL 1330 AM, known as The Jolt.

The hourlong show runs every weekday and is rebroadcast at 7 p.m. nightly.

You can also listen online at www.buckmastershow.com, where you’ll find archived recordings of past shows, a list of upcoming guests and information about what’s going on in the area.

If his first week’s lineup is any indication, “Buckmaster” is quickly going to become a must for anybody who’s serious about keeping up on what’s happening.

Scheduled guests include:

Monday: U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff John Wickham, state Attorney General-elect Tom Horne and Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll.

Tuesday:  U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and segments with consumer affairs and nutrition contributors, among others.

Wednesday: Gov. Jan Brewer, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, University of Arizona economic forecaster Marshall Vest and UA economist Gerald Swanson.

Thursday: UA law professor and water expert Dr. Robert Glennon (he spoke in Green Valley last year and drew an enthusiastic response), and Southwest Books of the Year winners, among others.

Friday: While KUAT killed off the Friday Round Table segment with local journalists on its revamped “Arizona Illustrated,” Buckmaster is taking it to radio. It’s now called “Media Meat” (here’s hoping he changes that...) and will feature a lot of the same voices that appeared on TV, including Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly, Linda Valdez of The Arizona Republic and yours truly, on issues involving Green Valley and Sahuarita.

So what’s the first thing you notice about Buckmaster’s taste in guests? Simple: He doesn’t have an agenda.

That’s what made “Arizona Illustrated” a hit, and is what will serve him well at KJLL 1330 AM.

Buckmaster is all about asking the right questions of the right people to get the answers we need to make informed decisions.

If you tune in expecting to hear the kind of preaching-to-the-choir rhetoric you get on nearly every talk-radio show in town, forget it.

Buckmaster is single-handedly upping the IQ of Tucson talk radio, and we’ve needed it for a long time.

He’s been busy lining up guests, but I managed to corral him for a bit.

Here’s some of what he has to say about his new start:

Q: You’re headed back to your roots. Has much changed in radio since you last were on the air regularly?

 A: Of course, since I left all-news radio in 1980 in San Jose, the technology has improved dramatically, but as for content, radio remains a very personal way of communicating. In TV, folks would say, “I love the tie you were wearing last night,” and say nothing about the content of the interview I was conducting. 

Q: Talk radio is heavily partisan and not always accurate. In fact, mostly not accurate. Can we expect better from you?

A: There is no question the journey I am beginning is an experiment in what I call “intelligent talk.” “The Buckmaster Show” is not about what Bill Buckmaster thinks.

Instead, it is about presenting a host of top-quality guests and newsmakers and letting my listeners make the decision on the important issues of the day. We will see if there is a place for this type of civil discourse.

Q: You’ll have a lot of the same voices on the air that you had in studio at KUAT. How will the radio format be different from what we saw on TV?

 A: In many ways, the studio segments on “Arizona Illustrated” were radio on television. Other than checking out how the interviewee looked, it was about what they had to say and that sounds like radio to me folks.

So I have put together a long list of contributors who were regulars on “Arizona Illustrated” who will join me at least once a month on the radio.

Q: Any new voices we’ll be hearing? How’d you decide on the lineup?

A: I decided to expand the list of contributors because I want a very well-rounded show that covers a lot of bases in Southern Arizona. We have added  Keith Rosenblum, former Arizona Republic and Arizona Daily Star reporter, who will be our border contributor. Jack Challem, who is known as the “Nutrition Reporter.” Other new voices include UA Education Professor Dr. Robert Hendricks on education, historian Ken Scoville, will bring an understanding of why Tucson is the city it is today, and Dr. Mark Sublette will be doing arts and culture segments.

Q: Green Valley and Sahuarita are important for many reasons. What do you want to hear from this area?

 A: Green Valley and Sahuarita are very important not only because of the enormous growth going on there but the environmental impact with the planned Rosemont Mine. I encourage all my friends who supported me on “Arizona Illustrated” to call the radio show.

Buckmaster, an Army veteran, likes to talk about his guests, but let me talk about him for a minute, because he recently collected a couple of notable and well-deserved honors.

He won the 2011 Golden Mic Award from the American Advertising Federation, Tucson Chapter, and the Citizen Medal from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

He didn’t win the awards because he’s a nice guy or because it was his turn.

He won them because he’s fair, he’s accurate, and he understands that journalism done the right way contributes to building a strong community.

Our best wishes to Buckmaster, because when his new show succeeds we’re all going to be that much better off.

 

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