Investigative reporter Dewayne Graham, recently departed from KLRT Fox 16, took some time out for a chat recently. Graham said the decision to leave Fox was his own, the result of disappointment over assignments that had him on “rat and roach patrol” and an understaffed newsroom that forced him to pull off investigative stories to help cover daily events.
When he was hired, Graham said, he was told he would be strictly on the investigative beat, due to his past experience as a reporter with KATV’s “Seven on Your Side.”
“That’s the way it started out, and it turned out to be more general assignment type things — covering school board meetings, when the snow came, the rains came, the sleet came and the roads froze over, doing reports on that sort of thing.” It led to a growing frustration for Graham, who said he often found himself pushing stories to the back burner and then having to explain to his sources why their stories didn’t air. “People would call up and say, ‘You used to do this kind of thing on Seven on Your Side. Why don’t you do it now?’”
Graham also grumbled about the station’s propensity for filling airtime with “live shots in front of empty buildings in the dark.”
“Were we in Pine Bluff or Sheridan? Who knows?” Graham chuckled. “I have a theory on this. A live shot is a necessity, an important element to the story — when there is a reason for being live. When you’re live just for being live, that’s not the purpose and the function of a news organization.” (Graham could have added that the live shot in front of a site where nothing is going on is a staple at other stations, too.)
Graham said one thing that helped him make the decision to leave was a recent assignment to find the “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 dirtiest restaurants in Little Rock — what he called “rat and roach patrol.” “I didn’t like that,” he laughed. “Somehow I just got wind that it was coming up again, that there was more of it coming, and I was just: no, uh-uh. I don’t want to go looking for roaches.”
Still in negotiations with KLRT over elements of his contract — including a non-compete clause — Graham is currently in discussions with a publisher in Atlanta to publish a series of books. He is also working on free-lance articles, lobbying state legislators as a consumer advocate, and continuing to take care of his wife, who is recovering from a December surgery to remove a benign cyst at the base of her brain.
“They [at Fox 16] were very considerate about the fact that she was ill and that I had a lot on my mind,” he said. “But we couldn’t nail down what we agreed to a year ago, which was to do this kind of in-depth reporting. It started out that way, but kind of veered off course. So I just said ‘I’m sorry, I need to move on. It’s just not working out.’ ”
KLRT News Director Michael Fabac refused to comment on Graham’s departure, citing station policy on personnel matters.
You knew the Baby Boomers were getting older when you started seeing ads for hemorrhoid creams and Lincoln Continentals featuring Led Zeppelin tunes (a stroke of marketing genius: The Rolling Stones singing “I can’t get no satisfaction” for Ex-Lax! Get Madison Avenue on the horn!). In the Little Rock market, the newest stab at the recalibration of middle age seems to be going on over at Active Years magazine. Though never quite marketed to the scooters-and-Craftmatic-adjustable-beds set (a recent press release says they’re targeted to the “40-plus reader”), the 35,000-circulation magazine started its 17th year by morphing — in name at least — into the much more with-it sounding “AY” (As in “Ay-Wye.”)
Besides the snazzy new name, publisher Vicki Vowell says the magazine will remain virtually unchanged, calling the swap a step toward “dropping the formalities.”
“We’re just encompassing the expansion of our readership and the attitude of our readership,” Vowell said. “With the new name, ‘AY,’ it’s just a little more hip, a little more fun.”
Tips? Info? Nekkid pics of local celebs?
Growing up for any kid is hard, but there is often a special kind of hell for those growing up gay or lesbian in Arkansas. This is the Bible Belt. We're slow to change, and for all our Southern politeness, the prejudices of older folks tend to percolate through the generational strata whether we want them or not.
On a rare warm afternoon in early December, Chase Brown, 9, his mother, Lakeyea, and his sisters, Peyton and Madison Johnson, were in the front yard of their house in Southwest Little Rock, soaking up the last bit of sun the city would see for more than a week.
An interesting element of the ongoing story of budget problems in the University of Arkansas Advancement Division has been a divide in outlook in the pages of the state's dominant news medium, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
After months of nearly wholly negative ads in the ever-lengthening race for the U.S. Senate in Arkansas, most created by outside third party groups, both the Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton campaigns took back control of their messages in the last two weeks with personal, positive ads. The style and themes of the ads tell us much about the relative strengths of their candidacies just under a year away from the election which will determine which of the two has his congressional career continue and which sees his end.
"We have just enough religion to make us hate," wrote Jonathan Swift "but not enough to make us love one another." A lifelong religious controversialist, the 18th century Irish satirist definitely knew whereof he wrote. After all, it's fewer than 20 years since Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland quit dynamiting each other's gathering places.
How far will Mark Pryor go to show that he's not really a Democrat, or not much of one? Call Barack Obama a Muslim? Leave his hat on in Nancy Pelosi's office? Demand reversal of Brown v. Board of Education? (The school integration decision was a bipartisan piece of work, but Democrats got blamed for it.)
Juanita's, the venerable Tex-Mex restaurant and music venue, is leaving the South Main Street location it's called home since 1986 for the River Market and the former home of Bill St., 614 President Clinton Ave.