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Arkansas, Florida and NYT? Ampezzan and Kremer Connect the Dots

3 min read

Ask Bobby Ampezzan if he’s missing journalism, and you’ll get two answers.

“Oh, yeah, I’m missing the work,” the former High Profile editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said. “But I’m not missing the profession.”

Daily papers and radio news — another notch on Ampezzan’s resume — are in a tailspin. The business coaching firm Challenger Gray & Christmas published a study last week saying newsrooms have cut 11,027 jobs this year, up 169.8% from the same period in 2019.

Ampezzan, a skilled writer who oversaw High Profile’s signature personality sketches, left newspapering in 2016 to help lead Arkansas Public Media, the nonprofit based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus station KUAR.

When national grant money for that endeavor dried up in late 2018, Ampezzan hired on with Mangan Holcomb Partners, the Little Rock ad agency.

Weeks into the job, he had a dilemma.

“I said, ‘Look, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this isn’t going to work because my wife and I are moving to Gainesville, Florida.’ [MHP] asked if I’d consider working remotely.” Suddenly, he had “a full-time job that I could put on my back and take with me.”

His bride, journalist Jillian Kremer, is a Floridian and graduate of the University of Florida in Gainesville. A former Democrat-Gazette deputy online editor, she had landed a plum job as deputy editor of the New York Times News Service, which itself moved to Gainesville in 2010.

Kremer joined Ampezzan in working from home when COVID-19 set in. The office is now “a 15-by-15 bubblegum pink child’s bedroom we have every intention of never painting over,” Ampezzan said.

The two had worked together in Little Rock, “but not that close,” Kremer said. She was on the night copy desk while Ampezzan worked more standard hours, and he “left for the radio station maybe a year after I’d started working there.”

Romance blossomed slowly, but they shared a sense of humor and devotion.

Ampezzan, now 43, proposed to Kremer, now 30, at Christ Episcopal Church across from the Democrat-Gazette. They married in May 2019 in Florida.

Kremer’s former boss in Little Rock, Gavin Lesnick, resigned earlier this year as Democrat-Gazette online editor to take a public information job at the Arkansas Department of Health.

“I’m sure he made a decision appropriate for his wife and 4-year-old,” said Ampezzan, who guessed that Lesnick’s old job had probably been secure. “But,” he added, “the paper isn’t the institution in the city that it once was.”

Ampezzan also pondered a loss in radio listenership, particularly at NPR, whose media reporter David Folkenflik reported a 25% ratings decline from last year, attributing it in part to COVID’s disruption of commuting habits.

Ampezzan noted an “incredible deluge of competitors” that NPR didn’t face 20 years ago. “I’m not sure radio is the primary device anymore for people coming to the content. Second, people have a ridiculous bounty of longform news format options, from The Daily to several other New York Times projects, to WaPo stuff like the presidential podcast, to Panoply Productions and Gimlet. … So, NPR should be worried.”

RELATED: KARK’s Ketz, Nolan Leaving Little Rock

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