Broadcast Exhibit Opens at Fort Smith Museum

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The Fort Smith Museum of History unveiled a new exhibit Thursday night that highlights broadcasting over the years.

“I look back now and wonder how the hell I ever did all of it,” said Milt Earnhart, the first 5NEWS weatherman.

In July 1953 Earnhart became the very first weatherman in Arkansas. He gave the forecast using a chalk board. “I can remember that night after night up and down Garrison Avenue late at night doing the weather program,” he said.

Personalities from the past and present, including 5NEWS Anchor Daren Bobb, crowded the Fort Smith Museum of History for the exhibit unveiling.

“I mean I’m really ancient,” said Bill Priakos, a former 5NEWS personality. “It was all black and white, but it was a lot of fun.”

Priakos signed on the air at 5NEWS in the 1950s. Back then KFSM-TV was KFSA-TV Channel 22. “I had an interview show and it was always fun to be able to make people at ease,” he said.

The exhibit has an old television camera, microphones, and photographs. Things have changed over the years, including equipment. “The lights I’m sure are not as hot because your cameras are so much more sensitive now,” said Priakos.

Not everything is different. Former on-air personalities still enjoy a good newscast. “I get a kick out of watching the weather people here today,” said Earnhart.

The exhibit runs through the end of the year.

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