Just getting started—Pinal County, Arizona – Managing Editor, Phil Riske, on Pinal where he once owned a radio station

By Phil Riske

Managing Editor, Rose Law Group Reporter

As a 30-something Wyoming native, I had two medium-term goals in mind: get the hell away from Rocky Mountain winters; and own a radio station.

The first goal was reached in 1973 and, in 1979, I became a partner in KSAA-FM “Casa 105” in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The day we moved in, it was 113 degrees.

My new hometown, population 15,000 at the time, was a dusty farming community in Pinal County, which had 90,000 residents spread out over 5,400 square miles.

Cotton farmers were the wealth.

Fransosco grandeThe Francisco Grande resort — the “Franny Granny” we called it — was the training home for the San Francisco Giants baseball team and drew needed tourism dollars in the spring.

Most residents, it seemed were native, and a politically closed Casa Grande did not, for whatever reasons, welcome new blood to town. This is not to say we didn’t make good personal, business and political friendships, but the town’s parochialism at the time and the recession of the early 1980s dashed any hopes of making the radio station a success.

Despite having to sell the business at a loss and moving to Phoenix, there was a quiet change beginning. Espousing the need for Casa Grande to look to the future with more of an open mind toward new development and new people, I came close to being elected to the city council.

When I left, I was a member of the Hoemako Hospital board, and we had just completed a partnership with St. Luke’s Hospital in Phoenix to build a new medical center.

So, it was around 1983 when you could say, “the rest is history.”

I am extremely pleased and proud of the maturation of Casa Grande and Pinal County, as is Rose Law Group, which was given the opportunity to be a major player in growth projects.

Just last week, we published the story Pinal County had the highest growth of total personal income among 455 counties nationwide from 2001 to 2011, with a 10-year span of TPI of 157 percent to $9.3 billion as of 2011.

Pinal County has grown from roughly 179,000 residents in 2000 to 382,000 in 2011.

In comparison, Maricopa County’s total personal income growth trailed Pinal’s by more than 100 percentage points.

I don’t recognize my first Arizona home anymore when I visit: Malls, housing developments, astute political leadership, diversity and a sense of even greater potential.

It does, however, lack a good local radio station. Anyone interested?


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