JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - One of the original owners of KAIT visited northeast Arkansas Wednesday morning and toured the studio, newsroom and sales area of the station he helped to build.
Bobby Hernreich, who now lives in Colorado, was an owner of KAIT from 1963 until Channel Communications purchased the station in 1984.
Hernreich is also part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Arizona Rattlers arena football team and former part-owner of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs and the Texas Rangers.
While in Jonesboro, Hernreich reflected on his time. He and his father, George Hernreich, built KAIT before going on air for the first time in July, 1963.
"It was just a cinder block building with a tower out back with a bad antenna and a transmitter that really was not even usable," Hernreich said.
Hernreich said he was impressed with the community. He said while the technology has changed, the spirit of Region 8 has not.
"Of course this is a religious community. People of faith and people of faith here you could depend on, solid people and I like that," Hernreich said. "I made a lot of good friends here."
After the Hernreich family sold KAIT to Channel, Cosmos Broadcasting purchased the station which eventually fell under the umbrella of the Liberty Corporation. Raycom Media, KAIT's current owner, purchased Liberty in 2005.
Hernreich was general manager of KAIT for 11 years after his father died. Wednesday, Hernreich said he was impressed with the growth of northeast Arkansas.
"Honestly it feels like home. It really does," said Hernreich. "I spent so many good years here. There were tough years. I mean it was so difficult. We were so poor. We didn't have any money to invest. Every dime that came in the door was spent either on staff or facilities."
Hernreich helped his father construct the original building.
"I said look, I'm not doing anything. Let me just go over there for a little while and see if I can help," Hernreich said. "I mean, you and I put it on the air. Let's see if I can help. I really had no intention of staying in Jonesboro but I came over to try and help out."
Hernreich said he was proud to see that KAIT continues to strive to serve the community, just as his team did for so many years.
"I'm proud of what we did because I do think that in those years, we provided the kind of service that stamped Region 8 indelibly as one of the foremost public advocacy television stations in the country," said Hernreich. "I was proud of what we did. It seems to me, I didn't have anything to offer the people of this area except their own reflection, a reflection on their lives and news of their lives and that's what we concentrate on."
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