New Public Radio Network in Arkansas launched

natural state newsThe Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) awarded a $278,300 grant to four Arkansas public radio stations to support the creation of a statewide multimedia journalism collaboration based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  Natural State News will be a statewide news service focusing on reaching rural areas of the state.

KUAR, UALR’S public radio station, will be the lead station for the project, joined by Fayetteville’s KUAF, Jonesboro’s KASU, and Texarkana’s KTXK. Ben Fry, general manager of KUAR and classical station KLRE, will coordinate the collaboration to create and broadcast thematically unified content relevant to the interests and needs of Arkansans.

Though the stations have often collaborated, the radio news service marks their first official joint venture. Together, the stations’ staff members at the stations will report stories centered on three themes:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Energy

NSN will report breaking news as well as produce related special interest stories. The resulting multimedia content will be published online and heard on local and national public radio programs such as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Here and Now.

“CPB is pleased to support this historic collaboration of Arkansas public media stations,” said Bruce Theriault, senior vice president of journalism and radio, CPB. “The Natural State News collaboration is an example of increased media integration and a pathway for stations to work together to maximize resources while expanding their high-quality journalism.”

The grant will help fund four new positions: a managing editor, two additional reporters, and a partner manager, who will raise additional funds for the project. Three of the new positions will be based in Little Rock, with one reporter to work out of Jonesboro.

Natural State News plans to break new ground with in-depth multimedia reporting to reach extensively into rural Arkansas to tell unfolding stories about wealth, poverty, race, and decision-making in education, healthcare, and the environment. Little-told stories from the region will give a distinctive vantage point for understanding larger national experiences.

NSN will partner with the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), and the print publication El Latino to provide and promote its diverse, nuanced content. All stories will be available in both Spanish and English, and NSN is committed to supporting diversity in its staff, student interns, and stories.

For more information on the partner stations, go to their websites: KLRE/KUARKUAFKASU and KTXK.


RSVP today for August 29 Lights! Camera! Arkansas! FREE seminar at Old State House Museum

LCA_topThis Saturday, the Old State House Museum will host a FREE seminar to explore Arkansas’s connection with the film and television industry.  It will take place from 9am to 2:30pm on August 29.

Activities will include a screening of the 2001 Academy-award winning Best Live Action Short Film “The Accountant.” Speakers including Robert Cochran, Suzanne McCray, Ben Fry, Stephen Koch and Philip Martin will discuss topics including women in film, Broncho Billy Anderson, music in Arkansas and Arkansas in the rise of regional Southern cinema.

“It gives a great sense of state pride knowing how incredibly important Arkansas has been to the film industry from a historical, technical and social standpoint,” said Suzanne McCray, one of the seminar’s presenters. “From the very first cowboy in film to the great up-and-coming actors and directors of today, Arkansas has made its case as a relevant and essential part of film and television.”

OSH logoSimilarly, presenter Bob Cochran said that his talk about a common film character-type is a perfect analogy for Arkansas. “There’s a standard trope of Hollywood films, the outsider — the character who the audience doesn’t expect anything from,” Cochran said. “However, by the end of the film this outsider reveals unexpected qualities and potential. That’s a wonderful analogy for the film industry in the state of Arkansas.”

An RSVP to the free event is required, and reservations can be made by emailing or calling (501) 324-9685 today to reserve a place. The seminar is programming in support of the “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!” exhibit at the Old State House Museum, which will be on display until January 25, 2016.

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Lights! Camera! Arkansas! book signing with Robert Cochran and Suzanne McCray

The authors of a new book that explores the legacy of Arkansas on film will be center-stage for a panel and book-signing at the Old State House Museum. 

On Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m., Robert Cochran and Suzanne McCray will be discussing their new book, “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!” on a panel hosted by Ben Fry, general manager of KUAR and host of Second Friday Cinema. 

“Lights! Camera! Arkansas!” traces the roles played by Arkansans in the first century of Hollywood’s film industry, from the first cowboy star, Broncho Billy Anderson, to Mary Steenburgen, Billy Bob Thornton and many others. 

The Arkansas landscape also plays a starring role: Crittenden County as a setting for Hallelujah (1929), and various locations in the state’s southeastern quadrant in 2012’s Mud are all given fascinating exploration. 

Cochran and McCray screened close to two hundred films—from laughable box-office bombs to laudable examples of filmmaking – in their research for this book. 

They’ve enhanced their spirited chronological narrative with an appendix on documentary films, a ratings section and illustrations chosen by Jo Ellen Maack of the Old State House Museum, where “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!” debuted as an exhibit curated by the authors in 2013.

 The exhibit will close on July 31, 2015. 

Tonight END OF THE LINE at Old State House “2nd Friday Cinema”

End of the lineJanuary’s installment of Second Friday Cinema features End of the Line, a 1987 movie directed by Arkansan Jay Russell and featuring Arkansans Mary Steenburgen and Levon Helm. The film is about two rail workers from Little Rock who hop aboard a train to Chicago in a last ditch effort to save their jobs and way of life.

Joining in the cast are Wilford Brimley, Barbara Barrie, Bob Balaban, Henderson Forsythe, Holly Hunter and Bruce McGill.  Perhaps, most importantly, Kevin Bacon is one of the stars making this a key component of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” games everywhere.

The movie was filmed in Central Arkansas.  The Culture Vulture very clearly remembers working overnight to construct balloon arches for a scene to be filmed at the Missouri Pacific rail yards the next day. The Culture Vulture later donned his 1970s era band uniform (with fake satin tunic, dark pants, dark shoes and fuzzy black cowboy hat) and stood in the August heat for several hours while a “simple” scene was shot and re-shot countless times.

Ben Fry, general manager of KLRE/KUAR and coordinator of the film minor at UALR, will introduce the film and lead a discussion after the screening.

The screening starts tonight at 5pm at the Old State House Museum, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.


Second Friday Cinema – September 30, 1955

OSH MovieTonight at the Old State House’s “Second Friday Cinema” September 30, 1955.  The screening starts at 5pm.

Starring Richard Thomas and future Oscar winner Lisa Blount, the film is about an Arkansas teen’s fascination with his film idol James Dean, and his reaction to the news of Dean’s death in a car wreck. The movie, set in 1950s small-town Arkansas, was written and directed by Arkansan James Bridges.  It was filmed in and around Conway.  At the time much of downtown Conway and the campus of UCA were largely unchanged since the 1950s.

September 30, 1955 is one of Bridges’s more personal films and is in contrast with his more well-known films which include The China Syndrome, Urban Cowboy and Bright Lights, Big City.  The tagline sums it up with: In twenty-four hours, a nice college kid named Jimmy J. robbed a liquor store, got drunk, held a séance, crawled through a cemetery, raided lovers’ lane, dropped the Homecoming Queen, and went to jail. It happened on September 30, 1955, the day that shook up a generation!

Others in the cast include future Oscar nominees Tom Hulce (before Animal House), Susan Tyrrell and Dennis Quaid.  Tom Bonner’s voice is heard as a radio announcer.

Ben Fry, general manager of KLRE/KUAR and coordinator of the film minor at UALR, will introduce the film and lead a discussion after the screening.

Busy Saturday at the Arkansas Literary Festival

AR Lit Fest 2014Today is the busiest day of the 11th annual Arkansas Literary Festival. Unless otherwise specified the events are free.

Highlights for today are:

10:00 am

  • Ron Robinson Theater: “Other People’s Secrets” – Mona Simpson (Casebook) and Curtis Sittenfeld (Sisterland) with moderator Eliza Borné.
  • Darragh Center of CALS Main Library: “Love or Hate a Cowboy” – Joe Nick Patoski (The Dallas Cowboys) with moderator Tim Jackson
  • Lee Room of CALS Main Library: Workshop – “Get the Reference”
  • Room 124 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Ecotone” – Kevin Brockmeier (A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip), Cary Holladay (Horse People) and Rebecca Makkai (Astoria to Zion) with moderator Kyran Pittman.
  • Cox Creative Center: “Fantasy & Fangs” – Colleen Doran (Vampire Diaries series, A Distant Soil) with moderator Randy Duncan
  • Historic Arkansas Museum: “Eat, Prey, Love” – Cindy Grisham (A Savory History of Arkansas Delta Food) and Kat Robinson (Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley) with moderator Rex Nelson
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: “Peace” – Lisa Leitz (Fighting for Peace) with moderator Alex Vernon
  • Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center: “A Piece of the Extraordinary” – Alan Lightman (The Accidental Universe) with moderator Lance Turner

11:30 am

  • Ron Robinson Theater: “Canal Voyage” – Mary Roach (Gulp) with moderator T. Glenn Pait.
  • Darragh Center of CALS Main Library: “Modern Parenthood” – Jennifer Senior (All Joy and No Fun) with moderator Amy Bradley-Hole
  • Lee Room of CALS Main Library: Workshop – “Literacy Action”
  • Room 110 of Arkansas Studies Institute: Workshop – “Wonder-Filled Work” with Jeff VanderMeer (Wonderbook)
  • Room 124 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Fever & Fatherhood” – Mary Beth Keane (Fever) and Wiley Cash (The Dark Road to Mercy) with moderator Susan Moneyhon.
  •  Cox Creative Center: “Dream Navigators” – Dylan Tuccillo (A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming) with moderator Michael Hibblen
  •  Historic Arkansas Museum: “Hattie!” – Nancy Hendricks (Senator Hattie Caraway) with moderator Tricia Spione
  •  MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: “Veterans Write Their Lives” – with moderator Sherry F. Clements
  •  Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center: “Dino-Might” – Brian Switek (My Beloved Brontosaurus) with moderator Kevin Delaney


1:00 pm

  • Ron Robinson Theater: “The Fine Art of Suspense” – Catherine Coulter (The Final Cut) with moderator Susan Fleming.
  • Darragh Center of CALS Main Library: “Class and Character” – Doug Wilson (Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson) with moderator Rod Lorenzen.
  • Lee Room of CALS Main Library: “Tongues & Virginia” – Cary Holladay (Horse People) and David Jauss (Glossolalia) with moderator Karen Martin
  • Room 110 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Poetry I” – Megan Volpert (Only Ride) and Tess Taylor (The Forage House) with moderator Bryan Borland-Pennington
  • Room 124 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Stellar Debuts” – Kelly Luce (Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail), Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower) and Mario Alberto Zambrano (Loteria) with moderator Angelle Gremillion
  • Cox Creative Center: “Evangelical Adoption Movement” – Kathryn Joyce (The Child Catchers) with moderator Judith Faust
  • Historic Arkansas Museum: “Southern Journeys” – Mark Nichols (From Azaleas to Zydeco) and Akasha Hull (Neicy) with moderator Paula Morrell
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: “Western Mythmaking” – Glenn Frankel (The Searchers) with moderator Alex Vernon
  • Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center: “Area X” – Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation) with moderator Ben Fry


2:30 pm

  • Ron Robinson Theater: “Vanguard” – Doug Dorst (S.) and Victor LaVelle (The Devil in Silver) with moderator Phillip Huddleston
  • Darragh Center of CALS Main Library: “Real Girlz” – ReShonda Tate Billingsly (Fortune and Fame; Real As It Gets) with moderator Angela Thomas
  • Room 110 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Poetry II” – John Bensko (Visitations), Sandy Longhorn (Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths) and Ash Bowen (The Even Years of Marriage) with moderator Hope Coulter.
  • Room 124 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Great TV” – Brett Martin (Difficult Men)with moderator Philip Martin
  • Cox Creative Center: “Measuring the World” – Ethan Hauser (The Measures Between Us) and Michael Parker (All I Have in This World) with moderator Jay Jennings
  • Historic Arkansas Museum: “Storytellers” – Suzanne Hudson (All the Way to Memphis, The Shoe Burnin’) and Joe Formichella (Waffle House Rules, The Shoe Burnin’) with moderator Shari Smith
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: “Preludes and Memorials” – David Sesser (The Little Rock Arsenal Crisis) and W. Stuart Towns (Arkansas Civil War Heritage) with moderator Mark Christ
  • Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center: “Puma Tale” – Darcy Pattison (Abayomi: The Brazilian Puma) with moderator Mary Ruth Marotte
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: “Mysterious Duo” – Attica Locke (The Cutting Season) and Qiu Xiaolong (Enigma of China) with moderator Sharon Lee


4:00 pm

  • Ron Robinson Theater: “Wonka Times 2” – Rick & Michael Mast (Mast Brothers Chocolate) with moderator Kevin Shalin
  • Darragh Center of CALS Main Library: “7th Grade in Little Rock” – Kevin Brockmeier (A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip) with moderator Nickole Brown
  • Lee Room of CALS Main Library: Poetry Competition
  • Room 110 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Make or Break” – Carla Killough McClafferty (Fourth Down and Inches) with moderator Rhonda Thornton.
  • Room 124 of Arkansas Studies Institute: “Terrifically Tiny” – Dee Williams (The Big Tiny)with moderator Lyndsey Lewis-Pardue
  • Cox Creative Center: “Badass Presidents” – Daniel O’Brien (How to Fight Presidents) with moderator Joel DiPippa
  • Historic Arkansas Museum: “Spa City Gangsters” – Orval Albritton (The Mob at the Spa) and Robert K. Raines (Hot Springs: From Capone to Costello) with moderator Liz Robbins
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: “Photographic History” – Carl Moneyhon (Portraits of Conflict series) with moderator Bobby Roberts
  • Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center: “Go Indie!” – with Darcy Pattison
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: “Illustration” – Kadir Nelson (Baby Bear), Colleen Doran (Vampire Diaries series) and Nate Powell (March: Book One) with moderator Paul A. Crutcher


5:00 pm

  • Christ Episcopal Church: “Nourishment” – Fred Bahnson (Soil and Sacrement)


7:00 pm

  • Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack: “Pub or Perish”


The Cox Creative Center will be having a used book sale on Saturday from 9am to 5pm. In addition there will be a used book sale in the CALS basement from 10am to 4pm.

2nd Friday Cinema at Old State House – Burt Reynolds in WHITE LIGHTNING

OSH White LightFor this month’s Second Friday Cinema, the Old State House Museum will present a screening of White Lightning. The screening begins at 5:30 pm.

Released in 1973, “White Lightning” stars Burt Reynolds as Bobby “Gator” McKlusky, a moonshiner serving time in an Arkansas prison. When his brother is murdered, Gator agrees to go undercover with the feds in order to expose a corrupt lawman.

Joining Reynolds in the cast are Jennifer Billingsly, Ned Beatty, Louise Latham, Diane Ladd, Bo Hopkins, Dabbs Greer and Matt Clark.  A six year old Laura Dern made her uncredited screen debut playing Ladd’s daughter. She got the job through nepotism since she really is Ladd’s daughter.

Ben Fry, General Manager of KLRE/KUAR and coordinator of the film minor at UALR, will introduce the film and lead a discussion after the screening.