KUAR general manager leaves Little Rock public radio station

The general manager of public radio stations at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will step down, he confirmed Friday.

Nathan Vandiver will step down as head of KUAR-FM, 89.1, next month, he said.

Vandiver was previously program director for KUAR and KLRE-FM, 90.5, and his time at the stations began as an intern in 2009, while still a student at UA-Little Rock. He took over as interim chief executive following the unexpected death of his predecessor, Ben Fry, in 2016.

He described his 13 years at KUAR as “a privilege” and “incredibly rewarding”.

“I learned a lot in college and in this job,” he said. “I’m really grateful to work with the journalists and staff here.”

Fry’s death from a heart attack in his sleep left everyone at the stations “in complete shock,” Vandiver said, and moving the stations forward was “a really good learning experience.”

Vandiver’s responsibilities included selecting and overseeing the stations’ on-air programming. For nearly four years as acting general manager, he oversaw broadcast equipment upgrades at both stations.

In 2018, Vandiver received the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network 20 over 20 award, which celebrates the achievements of nonprofit professionals over 20 years of age.

He was appointed Managing Director on an official basis in December 2019.

“We have worked hard over the past two years to ensure the stations are on solid footing, financially and operationally,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for the next general manager to take the station to the next level.”

Vandiver’s last day there will be July 8, but he will work remotely to help with the leadership transition before leaving Arkansas, he said.

He and his family will move to the Pacific Northwest, where his wife, Julie, has taken a new job, he said.

Sarah Beth Estes, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education at UALR, said in a statement that Vandiver’s time at KUAR and KLRE was greatly appreciated.

“Under Nathan’s leadership, UA-Little Rock Public Radio has increased both its sustaining membership and its staffing,” Estes said. “We wish him the best in his future endeavours.”

Stephanie Jackson, chair of KUAR’s board of directors, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Vandiver’s internship at the stations in 2009 led to his employment as a reporter and presenter, and he expressed gratitude for the institution’s ability to lay the foundations for young journalists’ careers.

“We had students who got their first internships in journalism here [and] gained experience that helped advance their careers,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun and a rewarding thing to be involved with.

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