40 Years of “Arkansas Week”

12 Feb 2023 in

Forty years? Really? Of “Arkansas Week”?

It took us by surprise, actually, that our broadcast is observing – might we be allowed to say “celebrating”? – its four decades on air. But the calendar doesn’t lie: Yes, four decades. Forty years. Could it be that Arkansas PBS’ flagship public affairs program has reached middle age?

Having taken flight, as it were, in 1983 – about midway in the tenure of a governor named Clinton – “Arkansas Week” remains the end-of-the-week marker of Arkansas PBS and a staple of the information diet of Arkansans who want to know – who need to know – what their government is doing and why. And how it is addressing the serious issues confronting the state, whether they be political, economic, medical or social.  

Since our first edition, “Arkansas Week” has delivered to its audience a consistent diet of substance. Oh, there’s a light moment or two along the way; as anywhere else, life in Arkansas demands it. But our focus, always, has been the matters that matter. To address those questions, to analyze the problems and assay the possible solutions, we have brought to our table the journalists who have covered them first-hand. Along with the academics and scientists and physicians who address them from their perspective. Experts in Arkansas commerce, too, and education. If it is of concern to Arkansas, then it’s of concern to us, and we bring it to the “Arkansas Week” table.   

In our 40 years, the chairs around that table have been occupied by a who’s-who of newspeople and newsmakers, authors and authorities. And, oh, yes, more than a few politicians, certainly – either in the flesh or under our microscope:  seven U.S. senators, 18 U.S. Representatives and more members of the Arkansas House and Senate than we can document or recall. We’ve covered three presidential campaigns by two Arkansas governors. (By the way, the incumbent governor is “our” sixth.) The political transformation of Arkansas from “Yellow Dog Democrat” to “Resolutely Republican,” from deep blue to ruby red, was documented every step of the way.  

Our credo has been, and continues to be, that “Arkansas Week” should never be about the moderator, nor anyone who appears on the program, but instead the information they bring to the table.  For us, the story is the star.

Through it all, it has been our determination to cover not both sides but all sides. That, and our conviction that spirited conversation and real reporting can be done civilly. Our credo has been, and continues to be, that “Arkansas Week” should never be about the moderator, nor anyone who appears on the program, but instead the information they bring to the table. For us, the story is the star. Never necessarily does heat produce light. 

Of course, there could be no “Arkansas Week” without the people you don’t see: the crew of dedicated professionals who not only schedule and produce the broadcast, but the men and women who tend to the studio cameras and the lights; the audio wizards who make the voices heard; the directors who put faces to the voices; the artists who design and load the graphics; the pros who record events in the field and edit the footage for broadcast; and the engineers who steer the sounds and images through the computers and to the satellites and to your home. Our right to celebrate our 40th anniversary is every bit theirs, and then some.

Forty years. 40.

Middle age?  

Younger than springtime.

Thank you.

“Arkansas Week” 40th Anniversary Broadcast

Friday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.


About the author: Steve Barnes, host of “Arkansas Week,” has been on the air in The Natural State since 1968, when he started as a weekend copy boy at KTHV-TV Channel 11 in Little Rock. Recognized and respected across Arkansas and the nation, Barnes’ adept hand at leading journalists and others in a discussion of current events complements his encyclopedic knowledge of the state, its players and its past.