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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.”
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