Before Signing Off, Doug Krile Reflects on Varied Broadcasting Career

Before Signing Off, Doug Krile Reflects on Varied Broadcasting Career
Doug Krile (Kyle Massey)

Doug Krile can see what he misses about the TV news business every time his daughter comes over for Sunday dinner. He can also recall aspects he doesn’t miss at all.

“I live vicariously through her now,” the former KARK news anchor said, describing his chip off the old block, Shayla Teater. A senior executive producer for KTHV news in Little Rock, Teater once wanted to follow directly in her dad’s footsteps, but she realized at the University of Missouri that she liked producing better than being on camera.

“My daughter and her husband come to eat and she has two phones in her hands,” buzzing with news-related texts. “That’s one part I’m not nostalgic about.”

Krile, 65, reflected fondly on a long, varied career a couple of weeks ago at the Arkansas Broadcasters Association’s headquarters in a warren of offices behind the Shorty Smalls restaurant in west Little Rock. He’s retiring next month after seven years as executive director, determined to travel and fully recuperate from a colon cancer struggle that began two years ago.

“I’m fine now, and all the tests are good, but there was about a year full of surgeries,” Krile said in the same kind and authoritative baritone that made him famous through 11 years at Channel 4. “I’ve never fully gotten back to 100 percent.”

The job at the nonprofit is changing, too, Krile said. “It’s becoming more of a sales position, and that’s just not my background.” Broadcasting associations, he explained, get a fraction of their revenue from member dues, but most comes from ads called noncommercial sustaining announcements.

“Those are the spots you see on TV and hear on the radio with the tag ‘brought to you by this station and the Arkansas Broadcasters Association,’” Krile said. Sponsors are guaranteed three times the amount of ad time that their donations would have bought in commercial ads, and Krile said the ABA’s member stations “usually way outperform that 3-1 ratio.”

But the major nationwide sponsor, the National Guard, left the program during a funding battle, and “everybody’s been tap-dancing around that for two years,” Krile said. “Associations, including ours, are looking for somebody to go out and actively solicit that type of investment.”

But news, not sales, has been Krile’s bread and butter. Even in high school, he dreamed of reporting, and he received an Iowa Broadcast Association scholarship in 1970, taking his $300 windfall to the University of Iowa. There, his coverage of Vietnam War protests got him noticed, and a job with a Cedar Rapids radio/TV station quickly followed.

“By the time I was a junior I was reporting on the TV side, and I did pretty much everything for that little station until I got my arm twisted to come to Little Rock.”

His first day at KARK was Jan. 28, 1986, and Krile was 34. He and News Director Bob Steel were chatting when someone suggested they turn on the TV: The space shuttle Challenger had exploded. “Bob went into full bore, saying, ‘We’re gonna show you how we do news here.’”

From there, Krile reported on Tommy Robinson, whose antics as Pulaski County sheriff led to a stint in Congress, and he covered Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns. A forward thinker on technology, Krile helped KARK develop the first TV news website in Little Rock.

That effort led to a job at Equity Broadcasting, working on the concept of centralcasting — producing newscasts for several different stations from the same location. “They said, OK, hire a news department,” Krile said. “We had a virtual reality set. So there was an anchor desk that didn’t exist, but there it was. The set even had a virtual elevator.” Newscasts for the underpowered local WB affiliate ended after a couple of years, but Krile stayed with Equity, negotiating cable contracts.

Then came the job at the association, where he and one employee, Angie Robinson, do it all. “We are the Arkansas Broadcasters Association,” he said.

What’s next? “I didn’t take a lot of vacations when my kids were young, so my wife, Judie, and I hope to travel. Our son, Thane, and his family live in the Houston area and they have two kids, so we have grandchildren to visit.”

There will also be more dinners with Teater, whose husband, Bryce, is a marketing manager for DataPath Inc. “I tell her that technology has changed so much, I couldn’t walk into a newsroom and do what she does. I couldn’t walk in and do anything. But she tells me that I’d get my feet back pretty quick.”