Local owner pounces on abandoned local AM news opening


Local Fort Smith radio group Pharis Broadcasting says it was planning on adding local news and information to the programming of KFPW-AM, one of two AMs in its five-station cluster. And when Clear Channel’s KWHN-AM pulled out of the local news business after a run of 20+ years, making the move at KFPW became a no-brainer.

GM Karen Pharis told TCW Media’s The City Wire for the Fort Smith Region, “We had been planning to expand our local programming in the morning anyway. So now we’re not only offering a new, local news/talk voice, we’re offering the only local news/talk voice.”

Bill Pharis will anchor the program, with assistance from ND Steve Rinke, and contributions from Channel 5 CBS KSFM-TV journalists, including newscaster Daren Bobb and meteorologist Garrett Lewis. KFSM is owned by Local TV. Various syndicated offerings will also be part of the mix.

According to The City Wire, KWHN opted out of the program Arklahoma AM when its leading air presence, Gary Elmore, passed away at the age of 56 in June. The Clear Channel decision deprived the market of local AM news.

But Pharis Broadcasting will fill that void with very little gap time.

Bill Pharis told The City Wire that Elmore and KWHN “set a pretty high standard,” but said they are getting lots of excellent suggestions from listeners, and will treat the morning program as a work in progress designed to best serve Fort Smith locals.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is exactly the kind of programming that the FCC hopes to foster. We hope the advertising market will allow Pharis to make a go of it.

We commend Pharis for planning to enter the local news space in the first place, congratulate them on their good fortune in suddenly having the space to themselves, and wish them a rapid pace to profitability.