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NEW AT 4: Jancey Sheats.
  • NEW AT 4: Jancey Sheats.
A bill filed March 7 in the state legislature by El Dorado Rep. Jodie Mahony would “prohibit state-supported institutions of higher education from advertising on commercial media.” Reached at the Capitol, Mahony said he introduced HB 2888 at the request of representatives from a state university, who didn’t take kindly to a competing institution trolling for students via the airwaves in their city. “They thought there was an awful waste of state dollars by some of the other colleges in going out and doing the kind of advertising they were doing, and that it needed to be curtailed,” Mahony said. Asked which university came to him over the matter, Mahony said he “can’t remember,” then added what can only be described as a knowing snicker. Though Mahony said he didn’t know if HB 2888 had legs, he did say that the money spent on advertising by colleges is part of a larger issue that will inevitably result in a “showdown” between the legislature and the state’s institutions of higher learning in the near future. “The colleges ought to be worried about retention and graduation and not on spending excessive amounts of money on recruiting and scholarships,” Mahony said. “I think that’s an issue that we need to be talking about.” Looking like a good bet these days is KARK-TV, Channel 4, newcomer Jancey Sheats, who now heads KARK’s broadcasts at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Brought in to replace 10-year vet Denise Whittaker — who flew the coop early this year for an on-air position in Seattle — Sheats had been a 5 p.m. anchor in Beaumont, Texas, before coming to KARK last month. Perky, polished, blond — and yet radiating the down-home approachability that viewers in this market eat up with a spoon — Sheats just might be the prescription KARK needs to float them out of the consistently low ratings the station has logged in recent years. Rick Iler, KARK’s news director, said Sheats was selected after a nationwide search that brought in more than 80 audition tapes. “We had some internal candidates and a couple of local people, and we brought in about four or five people from outside the market,” Iler said. “We just felt really good about Jancey … at the end of the day, we felt she had that energy and that spark and that charisma and — at the same time — the professionalism that we were looking for. We’re extremely happy with her.” Iler also reports the return of Tracy Douglass, who had been the station’s weather talent from 1986 to 1993. After years of on- and off-screen work at Ron Sherman Productions, Douglass will return to help cover the news in the station’s morning slot. And in other transitions news: On the heels of the announcement that long-time TV personality Beth Ward will be retiring from KTHV, Channel 11, effective March 25, KTHV news director Mark Raines confirms the departure of another of his flock: reporter Amy Fox. Fox, on staff since December 2001, has accepted an offer to move to a Gannett sister station in Grand Rapids, Mich. “She flew up there a couple of weeks ago to see the station, interview for the job, talk to some people up there,” Raines said. “She came back and said she was going to go … Gannett giveth and Gannett taketh away.” Raines said it was good move to a larger market for Fox. In brighter news for the station, Raines said there is no truth to the rumor that morning anchor Robyn Richardson will be bowing out following the birth of what will be her third child this summer. “She’s not going anywhere,” Raines said. “She’s due in July, and then she’s coming back to work after that. No truth to that little rumor.” What you know good? david@arktimes.com

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