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New Blood at KLRT

Plus: arkfam.com bites the dust.

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There are fresh hands on the news reins at KLRT Fox 16, as the station gears up to go head-to-head with Little Rock’s big three affiliates.

Ed Trauschke — lately of an 8-year stint at WESH-TV in Orlando — will be brought in to fill the position vacated by former news director Mike Fabac. Fabac left the station in January for a job with a station in Austin.

KLRT plans to debut new 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. newscasts on March 19. With their hour-long news beginning at 9 p.m., KLRT’s new 5 p.m. program will mark the first time the station has been in direct ratings competition with KTHV, KARK and KATV.

KLRT vice president and general manager Chuck Spohn said that it was Trauschke’s experience that made him stand out from other applicants. “He’s very well-versed coming from a big news operation — Hearst-Argyle — in a big market. He’s been news director, so he’s sat in the chair. He’s got a lot of good credentials.”

Spohn said that Trauschke’s arrival won’t translate into big changes at KLRT or to the newscast.

“Just because you have a new news director doesn’t mean you’re changing your brand,” Spohn said. “There may be techniques or skills that he brings to help us push that brand out a little further, but we’re not changing.”

Now that former Arkansas Times associate editor Warwick Sabin has taken a job as associate vice president for communications at the University of Central Arkansas, viewers might be wondering what will happen to the talking-head gigs Sabin has done for AETN.

Sabin had frequently appeared on “Arkansas Week.” He also was co-host of the monthly political show “Unconventional Wisdom” with David Sanders of the Arkansas News Bureau.

So, what’s the verdict, now that Sabin has gone to UCA? AETN production director Carole Adornetto has told Sabin that he will not be allowed to continue on “Unconventional Wisdom” and “Arkansas Week,” due to the potential conflict of interest issues presented by his new post. Adornetto was especially concerned, Sabin said, about discussions of higher education that might arise on either show. Sanders will pick a new co-host.

“Carole told me that AETN wants to continue its relationship with me,” Sabin said, “and she is encouraging me to develop some non-political program concepts.” Sabin said he already has some ideas, most of them revolving around his interest in music, art and literature. UCA president Lu Hardin has already given Sabin the go-ahead to continue freelance writing and any off-the-clock broadcast opportunities that might come his way.

The Arkansas Family Coalition blog (arkfam.com), which billed itself as the “last hold-out for real conservatism in Arkansas,” has apparently gone dark. A final post, dated March 2 and titled “We leave you with this …” is a youtube.com video of musician Leon Russell singing “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

During the 2006 election season, the Arkansas Family Coalition pushed news and views from the red side of the ticket, often in support of Asa Hutchinson’s failed campaign for governor.

Reached for comment, former state Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson — who rumors pegged as one of the minds behind the Arkansas Family Coalition blog — said that he knew the anonymous editors of the blog, but could offer no insight as to why they stopped publishing new entries. Hutchinson wouldn’t disclose the names of those who edited the blog.

“I know who he is. There’s several of them, actually,” Hutchinson said. “But no, I never published anything.”

Ah, Springtime!
david@arktimes.com

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