Broadcasting

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Entry Category: Broadcasting

Graham, Fred Patterson

Journalist Fred Graham was the dean of television news Supreme Court reporting in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Building upon his tenure as the U.S. Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times, and as law correspondent for CBS News, Graham pioneered television coverage of the nation’s highest court. Later, he became involved in the launch of cable television’s Court TV, where he continued to report and offer analysis of the American legal system and legal issues in the United States. Fred Patterson Graham was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 6, 1931, to Otis and Lois Graham. His family included an older sister and two younger brothers. He received his early education in Texarkana (Miller County) …

Greer, Stuart

Stuart Greer is a popular character actor from El Dorado (Union County) with more than forty film and television credits to his name. His career began in 1994; in 2016, he suffered a stroke at the age of fifty-six. His first role was in a single episode of the British miniseries Crocodile Shoes; in 2016, he played the character Roman in AMC’s hit horror series The Walking Dead. Greer’s notable movies include I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), The Reaping (2007) with Hillary Swank, Homefront (2013) with Jason Statham, and American Ultra (2015). Stuart Greer was born on December 2, 1959, in El Dorado, and he lived there until he was eight years old. Greer graduated from Benton …

Hamilton, George Stevens

George Stevens Hamilton is an American film, stage, and television actor widely known for his dashing good looks, jet-setting image, and trademark tan. Hamilton has extensive film and television credits spanning nearly six decades. Born on August 12, 1939, in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Blytheville (Mississippi County), George Hamilton is the son of touring bandleader George William “Spike” Hamilton and Southern socialite Ann Stevens of Blytheville. Hamilton’s early years were spent in Blytheville, where his mother’s parents also resided. In addition to an older brother from his mother’s previous marriage, Hamilton also had a younger brother. According to his memoir, the boys lived an idyllic life in small-town Blytheville and enjoyed a close relationship with their grandparents. In 1944, …

Handy, Delores

Delores Handy became an award-winning African-American journalist, reporter, and news anchor. In a career spanning over four decades, Handy won four Emmy awards for her television work in Washington DC and Boston, Massachusetts. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2009. Delores Handy was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 7, 1947, to the Reverend George G. Handy Sr. and his first wife. She is the oldest of fourteen children—nine girls and five boys. George Handy Sr. pastored a Baptist church in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Handy attended Horace Mann High School, with her interests including flag football and track and field. She graduated in 1965 and began college in the fall at …

Harper, Tess

aka: Tessie Jean Washam
A Golden Globe and Academy Award nominee, Tess Harper has become a consummate actress known for portraying Southern women of grace and dignity. She is best known for roles in Tender Mercies and Silkwood. Tess Harper was born Tessie Jean Washam on August 15, 1950, in Mammoth Spring (Fulton County). She attended Arkansas State University–Beebe (ASU–Beebe), where she performed in several plays, as well as Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in Springfield, where she graduated with a degree in education. She married Ken Harper in 1971; the couple divorced in 1976. In the late 1960s, Harper began acting in theater productions and made appearances in theme parks, dinner theater, children’s theater, and commercials. Her first feature film …

Hartman, Ena

Ena Hartman is an unsung trailblazer of Hollywood whose smaller roles in 1960s media productions helped create a path for African Americans in film and television. African-American actresses working in the 1970s benefited from the trail Hartman helped blaze. Ena Hartman was born on April 1, 1935, in Moscow (Jefferson County). The daughter of sharecroppers, she was raised by her grandparents. At age thirteen, she moved to Buffalo, New York, to live with her mother. She dropped out of high school to open a restaurant, handling the duties of cook and waitress as she tried to earn money to go to New York City to become a model. She was discovered by a photographer in the lobby of a modeling …

Hill, Jack Edward

Jack Hill was a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker who won national awards with station KAIT in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and eventually founded his own company in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to produce some sixty long-form features. Jack Hill was born in Rogers (Benton County), the only child of William Radus Hill and Grace Fields Hill. He attended Rogers High School, graduating in 1958 as senior class president. As a junior, in 1957, he played forward for the school’s only state champion basketball team. At the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he majored in speech, participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, and served as chaplain of his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter. After obtaining …

Holt, Georgia

aka: Jackie Jean Crouch
Actress and singer Georgia Holt had small parts in the movies and on television, but she was best known as the mother of pop superstar Cher and actress Georganne LaPiere, as well as being the grandmother of musician Elijah Blue Allman and LGBTQ+ rights advocate Chaz Bono. Georgia Holt was born Jackie Jean Crouch on June 9, 1926, in Kensett (White County). She was born in poverty; her father, the teenage Roy Malloy Crouch, was a baker, and her mother, Lynda Inez Gulley, was reportedly thirteen years old at the time she gave birth. Crouch would later have a younger brother, Mickey. Her father taught her how to sing and play guitar during her early childhood. After her parents separated, …

Humbard, Alpha Rex Emmanuel

Alpha Rex Emmanuel Humbard was a traveling evangelist from Arkansas who became a well-known gospel singer, pastor, and pioneer in Christian television. Born on August 13, 1919, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Rex Humbard was one of six children of Pentecostal evangelists Alpha and Martha (Childers) Humbard. In the summer of 1932, young Humbard watched a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus tent fill with crowds in Hot Springs (Garland County). Although he would not attend such “worldly” diversions, he decided that he wanted to attract crowds like that to share the gospel. At age thirteen, he began broadcasting on KTHS radio in Hot Springs by singing gospel songs and inviting listeners to come hear his father preach at …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, Kenneth Culver (Kenny)

Kenneth (Kenny) Culver Johnson Jr. is a television writer, producer, and director. He is the creator of numerous Emmy-winning projects including The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, the original miniseries V, and Alien Nation. Kenny Johnson was born on October 26, 1942, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Kenneth Culver Johnson Sr. and Helene Maye Brown Johnson. His father was an electrical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who helped build the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Johnson and his family left Pine Bluff after his father was transferred to the Pentagon near the end of World War II, and he was raised in Washington DC. His parents divorced in 1946, and his father moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). …

KAAY

KAAY (AM 1090) has been one of Arkansas’s most influential radio stations since it came into being on September 3, 1962. The station incorporated a successful mixed format of music, religion, farm reports, and news that was innovative for the time. Shortly after it had come on the air, KAAY was also utilized by the U.S. government to broadcast propaganda to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1966, KAAY also successfully brought a new musical format to mid-America on the program Beaker Street. KAAY was born out of KTHS, the state’s first 50,000-watt AM broadcast station. KTHS (which stood for “Kum To Hot Springs”) officially came on the air in 1924 and was granted its new increased-power operating privileges …

KABF

The KABF radio station (FM 88.3) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) began broadcasting an eclectic mix of music, news, and community driven content in 1984. “The Voice of the People” has exposed Arkansans to genres rarely heard on commercial radio, given local artists radio airplay, and provided organizations and citizens with a means to reach a wide audience with their messages. The broadcast signal carries to most of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties, as well as some neighboring states, and reaches an estimated 50,000 listeners every week. KABF is one of only twelve non-commercial radio stations in the United States with the maximum allowed signal of 100,000 watts. KABF was conceived as a project of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now …

KAIT

KAIT is a regional television station licensed in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Its broadcast area covers northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. The station’s studios are located in the northern section of Jonesboro, with a transmitter in Egypt (Craighead County). KAIT calls itself “Virtual and VHF digital channel 8, an ABC/NBC/CW+-affiliated television station.”  KAIT began on July 15, 1963, as a venture of George Hernreich, a businessman from Fort Smith (Sebastian County) who founded the first television stations in both Fort Smith and Jonesboro. At first, KAIT was an independent station, but in 1965, it became affiliated with the ABC-TV nationwide television network. KAIT began carrying programming from the NBC television network in 2015, and in 2018, KAIT also brought programming from …

KATV Tower

The KATV tower was a 2,000-foot-tall (609.6 meters) television antenna that stood just north of Redfield (Jefferson County), about one-quarter mile east of Interstate 530. Before its collapse in 2008, the tower ranked among the tallest manmade structures in the world and stood as a prominent local landmark, marking the approximate halfway point for drivers traveling between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Upon its completion on the late summer of 1965, the KATV tower was the third-tallest manmade structure in the world, surpassed only by the KVLY-TV and KXJB-TV television masts in North Dakota. By 2008, it shared the rank of fifth-tallest manmade structure in the world, as it was the first of many other 2,000-foot-tall …

KBTA

KBTA-AM is a radio station in Batesville (Independence County) broadcasting a sports radio format. The station is owned by WRD Entertainment and features programming from ABC Radio and CBS Sports Radio. KBTA (1340 AM) was Batesville’s first radio station. Located on the banks of the White River near Riverside Park, the station was launched as a joint venture by Batesville mayor Jared Trevathan, Jim F. Higginbottom of Oklahoma Tire and Supply, and Albert West of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). The first broadcast took place on June 30, 1950, and was a gala event. Higginbottom, who was president and general manager of the station, eventually bought out his two partners to become sole owner of the station. He received the …

KBTM [Radio Station]

KBTM was among Arkansas’s early radio stations, with the AM frequency (1230) officially hitting the air in Paragould (Greene County) in March 1930, though the family that operated it had begun making periodic broadcasts six years earlier. The station proved to be extremely popular and, within a few years, moved to the larger city of Jonesboro (Craighead County). In 1947, an FM sister station (101.9) was put on the air with the same call letters, making it what is believed to be the first licensed FM station in the state. Generations of broadcasting students at Arkansas State University (ASU) received their first professional experience at the stations, with many going on to have long careers in the industry. The birth …

King Biscuit Time

In November 1941, KFFA, 1360 AM, the first local radio station in Helena (Phillips County), went on the air. Soon after its first broadcast, blues musicians Robert Lockwood Jr. and Sonny Boy Williamson approached owner Sam Anderson with a proposal to air a local blues radio show. Anderson liked the idea, but he knew the show would have to have a sponsor. He directed Lockwood and Williamson to Max Moore, the owner of Interstate Grocery Company, as a possible sponsor. Moore, who recognized the possibilities of marketing to African Americans, agreed to sponsor the show if the musicians would endorse his product. With a corporate sponsor, the King Biscuit Time radio program went on the air on November 21, 1941. …

KMJX [Radio Station]

aka: Magic 105
aka: The Wolf 105.1
KMJX is one of Arkansas’s longest-running radio stations. KMJX started its life as KKLF-FM in Conway (Faulkner County). From August 1980 until February 2008, KMJX was known as “Magic 105,” an independent classic rock station with popular DJs such as Tom Wood, “The Outlaw” Tommy Smith, Sandy O’Connor, Sharpe Dunaway, David Allen Ross, Danny Joe Crofford, Jeff Allen, Carole Kramer, Casey Jones, Trent “Treetop” Tyler, and Clyde Clifford. In February 2008, KMJX changed its format from “Arkansas’s classic rock,” under Magic 105, to “All Things Country,” as The Wolf 105.1 FM. In 1973, radiomen Richard “Dick” Booth and Gordon Heiges were fired from a station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A week later, Heiges suggested that he and Booth start their own …

KOKY

Called the “Greater Little Rock Ebony Station” at its inception in 1956, KOKY was the first radio station in Arkansas to be staffed by African Americans and to feature programming directed toward a black audience. Founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the station has featured on-air talent like Leo “Jocko” Carter and Al Bell. John M. McLendon was a thirty-three-year-old broadcaster from Jackson, Mississippi, who owned three radio stations in Mississippi, including WOKJ in Jackson; like KOKY, WOKJ’s target audience was African Americans. During the summer of 1956, McLendon was granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to operate a station in Little Rock called “Ebony Radio” until call letters could be established. At 9:00 a.m., October 8, 1956, …

KTHS

KTHS, which became KAAY in 1962, is thought to be Arkansas’s third-oldest continuously licensed broadcast radio station. The station survived the turbulent years of broadcasting’s infancy, government regulations, and changes in location and frequencies to become Arkansas’s first 50,000-watt clear-channel station. KTHS was also known for its role in launching the career of the comedy team Lum and Abner. Radio station KTHS was built in 1924 on the upper floor of the new Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs (Garland County). Facilities included studios and ballrooms wired for broadcast. Two steel towers were installed on the roof between the hotel building’s towers, one 150 feet tall, the other 125 feet, to support the transmitting antenna. Test broadcasts began on December 11, …

KUAF

KUAF began broadcasting as a ten-watt station in January 1973 from a renovated clapboard house on Duncan Street in Fayetteville (Washington County). Owned by the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, the station began as a student-run operation with a staff of twenty-five students and a faculty advisor, Dennis O’Neal, from the Department of Journalism. The station served as a training ground for students. Planning for the station began the year before its debut. The initial finances were provided by the Associated Student Government and Student Services Allocations. A transmitter was installed on the top of Yocum Hall, and a survey was conducted during registration in fall 1972 to determine what type of music the students most preferred. The most …

KUOA

Radio station KUOA started at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and later belonged to John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs (Benton County). These schools used the station to broadcast programs such as educational talks, religious programs, music, local information, and sports. In the twenty-first century, KUOA is an all-sports station nicknamed “Hog Sportsradio.” It is generally considered to be the oldest radio station in Arkansas that is still broadcasting. According to Ray Poindexter in his book Arkansas Airwaves, the UA Department of Engineering began experiments with a wireless telegraph in 1897 and had a wireless station in 1916 licensed with the call letters 5YM. A license for the school’s first commercial AM radio station, KFMQ, …

KWEM

The landscape of American music was on the brink of change when KWEM began its first broadcast on February 23, 1947. The KXLR-Razorback Network brought its new station and a unique listening experience to West Memphis (Crittenden County), featuring local musicians who played live on the air. The success of live broadcasts on KFFA in nearby Helena (Phillips County) inspired KWEM to incorporate a “pay-to-play” revenue model, in which the opportunity to perform live on its daytime broadcasts was available to anyone able to secure a sponsor or pay a $15 fee. For emerging artists, appearances on KWEM provided exposure within the vibrant West Memphis music scene and ignited the rise to greatness for numerous musical legends, including Ike Turner, …

Lauck, Chet

aka: Chester Harris Lauck
Chester Harris (Chet) Lauck and his partner, Norris “Tuffy” Goff, created Lum and Abner, a radio program based on life in Pine Ridge (Montgomery County) that was popular nationwide from 1931 to 1955. Lauck portrayed Lum Edwards (pronounced “Eddards”), Grandpappy Spears, and Cedric Wehunt, with Goff doing the voices of the other characters. Chet Lauck was born on October 10, 1902, in Alleene (Little River County) to W. J. and Cora Lauck. The family moved to Mena (Polk County) in 1911. The Lauck and Goff families were prominent in local events in Mena, and as children, the two boys began a lifelong friendship. Lauck was expected to continue his father’s business interests, banking and lumber, but was more interested in …

Lee, Lisa

aka: Alicia Faye Young Lee
Arkansas native Lisa Lee was a respected journalist in both print media and television, as well as a television producer and author. During the last few years of her life, she was senior vice president of creative content for the Academy of Country Music and produced the annual Academy of Country Music Honors. Alicia Faye Young, better known as Lisa, was born on December 24, 1968, in Cabot (Lonoke County) to Charlie and Faye Young; she had two brothers. She grew up in Cabot and graduated from Cabot High School in 1987, having served as the school yearbook editor. She graduated from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) with a BA in journalism and English in 1991, …