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High ratings expected for ASU Cronkite School documentary on prescription drug abuse

Hooked Rx

Cronkite students Sean Logan (left) and Lily Altavena interview a recovering addict in Show Low, Arizona, for "Hooked Rx."

January 09, 2017

Tomorrow, every major broadcast television station in Arizona and 100 radio outlets will come together to simultaneously air a 30-minute, commercial-free documentary produced by Arizona State University students on the alarming rise in prescription drug abuse in America.

“Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction,” an investigative report by Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, focuses on the alarming rise in prescription opioid abuse.

The statewide simulcast, produced in association with the Arizona Broadcasters Association, will air Tuesday on all 32 major broadcast TV stations in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott and Yuma and most of the state’s radio stations. The air time will be 6:30 p.m. on most stations. The video and a series of multimedia stories will be available at The documentary will be available online immediately after the 6:30 p.m. television and radio broadcast.

“Hooked Rx” builds upon the first documentary “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” by uncovering the root of the heroin epidemic through in-depth interviews with recovering prescription pill addicts, law enforcement, government officials, doctors, treatment specialists and public health experts.

“Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which also aired on all broadcast television stations and most radio outlets in Arizona in 2015, brought in an estimated 1 million live viewers. In the Phoenix market, “Hooked” was one of the year’s highest rated programs, drawing nearly half the 2014 Super Bowl audience and twice the number of the week’s highest-rated program, the CBS crime drama “NCIS.”

“Since the first ‘Hooked’ project two years ago, Cronkite News has been committed to providing deep and sustained coverage of opioid addiction, which is killing hundreds of Arizonans each year,” said Christopher Callahan, Cronkite School dean and CEO of Arizona PBS. “‘Hooked Rx’ is a product of our commitment to reporting this important issue.”

During and after the telecast, the ABA will sponsor a call center for viewers seeking counseling on prescription opioid and heroin addiction. A 100-phone center with trained counselors will be set up in the studios of Arizona PBS on the sixth floor of the Cronkite School on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

“I have no doubt there will be lives in Arizona saved or changed from the high rate of addiction to opioid based pharmaceuticals because of this documentary,” ABA President and CEO Art Brooks said. “For those personally in this battle or have a family member struggling with addiction, this program offers a glimpse of the crisis in our state and the opportunity to call in to find the help they are so desperately seeking.”

More than 100 students under the guidance of 15 faculty members worked on broadcast, digital and new media content for the project under the leadership of Cronkite News Executive Editor Kevin Dale. Cronkite Professor of Practice Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist spearheaded the production of the documentary.

Cronkite graduate student Lily Altavena, who played a key role in the production of the documentary, said the project was an eye-opening experience. She said she traveled across the state to report on the epidemic.

“I’m really grateful on what we’ve been able to do on this project,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we tell this story through the lens of the state of Arizona.”

Others have partnered on the “Hooked Rx” project, including Clear Channel Outdoor, which is providing free highway digital billboard advertisements to promote the documentary, and the Arizona Newspapers Association, which distributed print and digital promotional materials on the documentary to their newspaper members across the state.

ASU will screen the documentary at the Cronkite School live at 6:30 p.m. in the First Amendment Forum. There will be additional screenings at ASU in the following weeks.

Public Screenings at ASU

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10

First Amendment Forum

555 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ, 85004

Memorial Union at ASU’s Tempe campus

6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19

Pima Auditorium

1290 S. Normal Ave. Tempe, AZ, 85287

University Center at ASU's West campus

5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 24

Devil’s Lair

4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale, AZ, 85306

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