The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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KAIT Says It Will Launch An NBC Affiliate

NBC is coming to Jonesboro.

Raycom Media-owned KAIT announced in a Dec. 18 post on its website that it will broadcast an NBC affiliate. The official move was announced as "coming soon" with no start date, or other details, identified.

TVSpy reported Monday that the broadcast will begin Jan. 26, with KAIT simulacasting news from Raycom's Memphis NBC affiliate, WMC.

KAIT is an ABC affiliate and is the only commercial television station in the local viewing area to broadcast from Jonesboro. Other local stations broadcast from Memphis. 

Previously: Hatton Weeks, KAIT’s news director, announced earlier this month that he is leaving the station in January to take the news director's job at WLBT-TV and Mississippi News Now in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s been KAIT’s news director since 2008. WLBT is also owned by Raycom.

How Much do the Razorbacks Get for Texas Bowl Appearance?

Tonight, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Longhorns will renew their Southwest Conference rivalry in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston. 

According to CollegeFootballPoll.com and StatisticBrain.com, Arkansas will earn $3 million just for participating. Now, all that money doesn’t go directly to the Razorbacks. The team gets to keep a portion of the purse, but the majority goes to the Southeastern Conference. 

It’s been reported the SEC is expected to get $87.5 million from bowl payouts this year. After individual team retainments for each bowl, the lion’s share will be split equally between each team and the conference office. Last year, the conference divided $292.8 million in total revenue — which includes money earned from football and men's basketball — among its 14 institutions, which comes to more than $20.9 million per school.

For leading the Razorbacks to a bowl game, Bret Bielema will receive a $50,000 bonus, per his contract (PDF).

The players won’t walk away empty handed, either. Each player will receive an adidas Team Speed duffel bag, a cap and belt buckle, according to SportsBusinessDaily.com

The Hogs and ‘Horns kickoff tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

IKEA is Coming to Memphis

On Dec. 15, IKEA tweeted this rendering of its planned store in Memphis.

Everyone's favorite Swedish furniture store is coming to Memphis. That's right. Pretty soon, Arkansas shoppers will only be a couple hours away from IKEA.

WREG in Memphis reports Tennessee's first IKEA store will be off Germantown Parkway, behind Costco. It will be the company's 41st store in the United States.

More than 225 jobs are expected to be created, salaries are not known at this time.

The company has said it will raise its minimum wage to $10.76 per hour. 

An additional 500 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase.

A news conference with IKEA officials and Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton is expected to reveal more details, including the store's exact location and open date.

Ahead of the press conference, IKEA tweeted this rendering of the Memphis location:

Twerking, Meditation Lead Year's Top Google How-To Searches in Little Rock

Apparently, Little Rock residents were interested in learning how to meditate and how to twerk in 2014. Well, we hope you found what you were looking for, Little Rock.

Google released its top searches in Arkansas' capital city Tuesday, which included different lists pertaining to "how to" and "what is" questions, and top news and events searches.

Overall, Robin Williams and ebola led the way in top 10 trending searches in Little Rock. Riverfest, the World Cup and Joan Rivers rounded out the top five. Also in the top ten trending searches was Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Black Friday 2014, Tracy Morgan, Maya Angelou and LeBron James.

As far as news and events go, ebola led the way in Little Rock, followed by Riverfest. The rest of the top five included the World Cup, the NFL draft and ISIS. The bottom-half of the top ten included blood moon, the Olympics, Ferguson, Missouri, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and April's tornado that ravaged the communities of Vilonia and Mayflower.

On the how-to front, once you guys figured out how to meditate and twerk, here's what else you were concerned with learning how to do:

  • How to draw
  • How to whistle
  • How to knit
  • How to kiss
  • How to coupon
  • How to cook 
  • How to monogram
  • How to blog

As far as learning what something was, ebola, again, led the way. Followed by:

  • What is gluten?
  • What is ALS?
  • What is bitcoin?
  • What is ISIS?
  • What is love?
  • What is neuropathy?
  • What is Spotify?
  • What is airdrop?
  • What is kik?

So, maybe if you're looking to meditate your way through Christmas and New Year's, or, if twerking is more your style, maybe one of your friends can teach you.

Wal-Mart CEO Says Company's U.S. Workers Will Soon Make Above Federal Minimum Wage

The CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville says all U.S. workers of the company will soon make more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville have protested for wage increases, and according to company CEO Doug McMillon, that raise is coming soon. 

In a sit-down interview with Charlie Rose of "CBS This Morning," McMillon said it wouldn't be long before all of the retailer's U.S. workers make more than the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. It might not be the raise several protestors have pushed for, but it's a start.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"We're going to make some changes in a few months that will create a situation where no Wal-Mart associate in the United States makes federal minimum wage. We'll be ahead of that with our starting wage," McMillon said.

He said he believes there is a difference between the perception of Wal-Mart and the reality of Wal-Mart.

"In the world there is a debate over inequity, and sometimes we get caught up in that and retail does in general. But we couldn't run a good business if we don't take care of people and have compensation plans that work," McMillon said.

McMillon didn't go into details about how much more than the federal rate workers would make. Check out the entire video below, and story here.

In the interview with Rose, McMillon also discussed a June accident involving a Wal-Mart truck driver and comedian Tracy Morgan. The accident critically injured Morgan and killed comedian James McNair. Wal-Mart now faces litigation from Morgan.

"It was a tragedy," McMillon said. "I would first of all say to the McNair family how sorry we are for their loss. And to Tracy Morgan and everyone else involved in it, we feel very bad about what happened, and from the beginning have tried to say we want to take responsibility for it and do what's right."

Watch the video below for more.

Rose's entire 20-minute interview with McMillon is available here via Bloomberg.