Award-winning KATV sports reporter and anchor Kyle Deckelbaum is leaving Channel 7 after more than eight years, he revealed on social media Thursday, announcing that Dec. 31 will be his last day.
In a Twitter post, Deckelbaum said he was departing “after it became clear that the needs of the station have changed,” and he described his choice as a “difficult decision.”
Reports from KATV insiders have hinted at a general de-emphasis of sports coverage in the newsroom. During his tenure on the sports desk, Deckelbaum has been honored with a regional Emmy and four Edward R. Murrow Awards.
One former newsroom staffer said KATV owner Sinclair Broadcast Group was slow to approve travel for covering the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville and the College World Series in Omaha after cutbacks in early 2021. Even before the cutbacks, the former staffer said, resources for coverage of Friday night high school football were limited.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Deckelbaum joined Channel 7 in September 2014 after several years at stations in Madison and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Early in his career, he was a play-by-play announcer for the Big 10 Network.
At KATV, he was known for covering the Arkansas Razorbacks, and said he was “immensely proud” of the station’s award-winning and popular “Beyond the Game” series. He also offered particular thanks to veteran Channel 7 sports man Steve Sullivan and videographer Tony Ranchino. “Boy, did we have some laughs,” Deckelbaum posted. “Boy, did we make a team.”
He also thanked the viewers of “what has been a historic station in this state.” KATV News Director Amy Sullivan, asked about the direction of the station’s sports coverage, told Arkansas Business that viewers that Channel 7 “will continue to provide the quality sports coverage our viewers have come to expect.”
She also wished Decklebaum well in his future endeavors.
In a nod to viewers and sports news subjects, Deckelbaum said he’s “eternally grateful to those that entrusted us, often in their most sensitive moments, to tell more than 220 stories since 2014.”
Deckelbaum said Sullivan and Ranchino, “truth be told,” were the reasons he turned down several opportunities elsewhere to remain at KATV. “They are simply the best.” He also praised David Bazzel, Bruce James, Matt Zimmerman, Joe Kleine, Quinn Grovey and other sports figures, athletic directors, coaches and “lifelong pals.”
He also noted that he met his wife, former KATV producer Katelyn Deckelbaum, at the station. She worked for nine years at the station before joining The Peacock Group of Little Rock as a senior public relations executive.
In response to Deckelbaum’s departure, Steve Sullivan said he and Ranchino weren’t simply losing a co-worker. “Kyle has become like family. I don’t know a more talented writer/storyteller. Nine years went way too fast.”