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Buzz in De Queen; Silence in Rogers

3 min read

All things come and go. But unfortunately, home-owned newspapers and radio stations are doing far more going these days.

So it’s good to report that the De Queen Bee, one of the best-named newspapers in the state, is back under local ownership.

Bunyard Broadcasting Inc., which operates KDQN-AM and KDQN-FM in De Queen, as well as KILX-FM and several other radio stations around the state, bought the Bee and its sister paper in Polk County, the Mena Star.

Lancaster Management Inc. of Gadsden, Alabama, was the seller. It had bought the Star in 1991 and the Bee in 2007 from the heirs of Ray and A.L. Kimball, who bought the weekly paper in 1933. Ray Kimball became publisher in 1946, and longtime editor J.R. McKinley joined the staff in 1952. The paper, founded in 1897, is among the state’s oldest. No financial terms of the sale were made public.

Bunyard said on its website that the merger of the newspapers with the radio group will “provide unparalleled access to local and regional news, sports and community events.” The paper will publish local opinion columns, news of yesteryear and reports on the De Queen City Council, among other coverage.

KURM Goes Quiet

Meanwhile, KURM, the Rogers AM and FM radio outlet and Kermit Womack’s sounding board for nearly 45 years, went off the air on July 1.

Womack, the station’s owner and a broadcaster for more than 70 years, said health issues persuaded him to let the station cease operations. Womack, who put KURM on the air in November 1979, hopes to eventually resurrect the station. “Maybe it will only be temporary,” he said on his last day on the air.

In a statement, he said the station was devoted to local coverage in northwest Arkansas, northeast Oklahoma, southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas. “Our style of radio is hard to do. That, coupled with some unfortunate health circumstances, have led to this decision.”

Womack, father of U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of the state’s 3rd District, worked at stations in Russellville and in Lexington and Moberly, Missouri, before founding KURM.

The congressman noted that the radio business has changed, along with listening habits. “There are simply too many outlets competing for consumers,” Steve Womack said. “My father is an institution. He’s among the last of a vanishing breed. He was KURM, and if he’s unable to continue, it is fitting that the station retires with him.”

Another NWA Departure

After 11 years as editor of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and 22 years in the journalism industry, Paul Gatling has joined the University of Central Arkansas as a regional advancement officer.

His last day at the Journal was June 28.

He was first hired as an assistant editor at the NWABJ in February 2011 and became editor in May 2013.

Gatling called his time at the journal a career highlight, and expressed gratitude to Roby Brock, Michael Tilley and Rob Gutteridge. Brock is CEO of Natural State Media, the journal’s parent company. Tilley is president of Natural State Media, and Gutteridge is the NWABJ’s publisher. The publication is printed every two weeks.

Gatling also thanked Darin Gray, CEO of the advertising firm CJRW of Little Rock, who hired him at the journal. “It has been a pleasure working alongside such a terrific team of dedicated professionals,” Gatling said in a statement.

Brock, Tilley and Gutteridge will lead the Journal as it seeks a new editor and keeps to its publishing schedule.

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