One Of The First Channel 5 Anchors Shares His Experience

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- It was 1958 when Jim Kell got the call to be one of the first news anchors at Channel 22, which would later become Channel 5. The station operated out of an old building in downtown Fort Smith that no longer exists.

"Everything we did was seat of the pants type thing. We didn`t have the equipment. I mean it's come so far. The technology has jumped over the years til I wouldn`t be able to get myself around at  a TV station now," Kell said.

Then, local news  lasted only 15 minutes. It eventually expanded to a single 30 minute program each evening.

"That was a big deal because we didn`t have the technology that`s available today. We got pictures for the news cast from the news wire at the newspaper, and we stapled them on cardboard and had them on an easel and the other camera would be on that."

Those pictures Kell talks about were the only form of visuals for each newscast. Aside from that, the news was very basic.

"We didn`t have teleprompters. Our news we took off the associated press news wire, and you read it trying to keep your head up and look at the cameras as much as you could so we could show that had some sort of intelligence, which we didn`t."

Kell says TV news is as important today as it was back in his day, yet technology makes it better.

"If we could have had those facilities that you have today, I'm not saying we`d have been better announcers or better newsmen, but I think it would have lifted our level a little bit."

Kell worked with the likes of Milt Earnhart and long time Weatherman John Chandler. After ten years on the desk Kell says "as the old joke goes, I had to quit and get a job."

After leaving the news desk in 1967 he became a successful local life insurance sales representative.