KARK-TV News Director Austin Kellerman announced Thursday on Twitter that he’s going home to Texas to work for parent company Nexstar Communications, ending a seven-year stint of directing Arkansas news coverage and drawing attention to issues running the gamut from violent crime to the “Babe Bracket,” a Little Rock radio feature he saw as an anachronism.
Kellerman, who also oversaw news at sister station Fox16, will be Nexstar’s director of digital content in Irving, between Dallas and Fort Worth, where he grew up.
A graduate of Lamar High School in Arlington and the University of North Texas in nearby Denton, Kellerman told Arkansas Business that the job switch will come in early March. He was reluctant to talk further without clearing his comments with Nexstar.
Despite youthful looks, Kellerman is a 15-year news veteran, having started as a Shreveport news producer in 2004. Through his blog, Kellerman championed the work of TV journalists and played a crucial role in the rebranding of an annual promotion at KABZ-FM in Little Rock, the popular sports talk station which for years had promoted the Babe Bracket in the run-up to the NCAA basketball tournament.
Listeners would rank local TV news women — based on popularity, not looks, the station said — who would advance through a tournament-style bracket. Kellerman noted the sexist overtones of voting on local TV’s top “babe,” and pointed out that men weren’t included in the bracket.
Kellerman’s post questioning the Babe Bracket at the height of the me-too movement drew national coverage to the contest, sparking outrage, a vigorous defense from the radio station, and an eventual name change. Last year, the “Babe Bracket” became the “Bracket With No Name,” which corresponds with the station’s program led by former University of Arkansas football star David Bazzel, “The Show With No Name.”
In the new job, Kellerman said, he will “help organize digital planning, coverage, and innovation for our parent company.” He said he and his family will miss Little Rock, but that the pull of home was strong. He said in an email that time has flown by: “It’ll be seven years when we hit March. Crazy!”
He was news director for his full time in Arkansas, he said.