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KUAR/KLRE General Manager Ben Fry Dies at 54

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Ben Fry, the longtime general manager of Little Rock public radio stations KUAR and KLRE, died early Thursday. He was 54.

KUAR, an affiliate of NPR, said Fry died in sleep. He had been general manager the two University of Arkansas at Little Rock-affiliated stations since 1995, overseeing financial management, engineering, programming and fundraising.

Fry joined the UALR Public Radio staff in 1988 as news and information director. He worked as program director for a year before becoming general manager.

Fry had recently been tapped to coordinate the launch of Natural State News, a statewide news service focusing on reaching rural areas of Arkansas. KUAR will be the lead station for a four-station collaboration made possible by a $278,300 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

“Ben was a fantastic example of the integration of the instructional mission of the university with the public service mission of the university,” said Lisa Bond-Maupin, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Communication, which includes the radio stations. “He was a dedicated radio professional who also loved to teach and to provide students with opportunities to learn through involvement with the public radio stations. He was also just a really wonderful colleague.”

According to KUAR, Fry began his career began in his hometown of Wynne (Cross County) working weekends at the local radio station while still in high school. 

In 1980, he began attended UALR and got a part-time job with commercial radio station KARN as an announcer. By 1983, he was working there full-time as creative director, writing and producing commercials.

Fry received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the UALR in 1987 and a master’s degree in journalism in 1998. He later became an adjunct professor in UALR’s School of Mass Communication.

Fry is survived by his wife, Karen, and his two children, Sarah and Sam. Funeral arrangements are pending, according to the university.

“He held the weight of KUAR and KLRE on his shoulders and was the chief advocate for public radio in central Arkansas,” said Nathan Vandiver, program director for KUAR and KLRE, who has been named acting general manager.

KUAR said it would add more details throughout the day here.

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