Public demands answers over dismissed anchor

JONESBORO, Ark. – A local television station usually responsible for asking questions is being hounded for answers as to why they fired a longtime news anchor but so far, they’ve offered no explanation.

For 15 years, Craig Rickert was the main anchor of Region 8 News’ flagship broadcasts at KAIT – a Raycom Media owned television station based in Jonesboro. Along with Diana Davis, a veteran of the market as well, Rickert was one of the two ‘main anchors’ considered to be the faces of the station’s news division. Sometime in the third full week of April, 2017, that changed.

Rickert anchored his last Region 8 News broadcast on April 19. Following that, all traces of the anchor were erased from kait8.com and the KAIT news app.

At 4:37 p.m. Thursday, April 20, Rickert’s co-anchor for Region 8 News at Ten, Allison Munn, tweeted an unspecific message regarding frustration. The next day, local contacts and news sources were notified that Rickert was no longer with the TV outlet.

Tuesday night, April 25, NEA Report broke the story following several hours of contacts with sources both inside and close to the television station. Rickert was gone and the station management wanted the story to be kept quiet. The public would have other plans once they caught wind of the story.

Almost immediately, tens of thousands reacted to the story in outrage. Hundreds shared it while many more began discussing the instance in the comments. It quickly became NEA Report’s second most viewed story of the year with, so far, over 60,000 clicking onto our website to read the full story. Tens of thousands more have seen the story online (The only story attracting more attention this year was the Randy Orton/fan gym debacle with 200,000 reads).

Since Tuesday, several calls to KAIT News Director Josh White and General Manager Chris Conroy have gone unanswered. Emails and messages requesting comment were also ignored. However, on White’s personal Twitter account, he did post an allusion to “trolls” Tuesday night.

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The animated gif image was of Laurence Fishburne’s character of Morpheus from The Matrix motioning for his opponent to ‘bring it on.’ While only White knows who or what this was in reference to, it would serve as an omen for what was to come.

In the minutes, hours, and days following NEA Report’s story, KAIT viewers began voicing their displeasure regarding Rickert’s departure. At first, the posts were on our story but soon, Region 8 News’ Facebook page was being flooded with demands for answers. Almost awkwardly, Region 8 News refused to address the situation and has yet to make any substantive comment. This has seemed to fan the flames of the internet’s desire to get answers.

The situation has begun to resemble a national controversy surrounding Cracker Barrel’s firing of “Brad’s wife.” For those unfamiliar, an 11 year employee was fired without a publicly given reason by the restaurant chain. Cracker Barrel now can’t make a social media post without hundreds demanding answers, often in humorous ways. Quite similarly, every KAIT social media post made since NEA Report’s first story was published has been overwhelmed with comments about Rickert.

More creative followers have even made memes and graphics to post.

The internet’s persistence may be entertaining to most but at least some are not laughing. A number of individuals say they’ve been banned from KAIT’s page following their inquiries and posts. Several others say they received a message stating they can call the station for more information.

NEA Report again called White and Conroy on Friday morning. Conroy’s voicemail said he was out of the office on Friday and he could be reached at cconroy@kait8.com. A voicemail was left for White which he did not return. We also reached out to Raycom Media Chief Executive Officer Pat LaPlatney but his receptionist said he, too, was off work Friday.

The company is under no legal obligation to explain itself but to an unhappy public filling social media with #WheresCraig, the silence is deafening.


Follow NEA Report on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news developments from across Northeast Arkansas.

By Stan Morris | Twitter | e-mail | Facebook

Featured photo from YouTube. Screenshots from Facebook. 

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32 Comments

  1. One sure way to get their is for their advertisers to start pulling their advertisement , and see how that chaps them.

  2. Everyone looked forward to his and Miss Davis news each week day. But the general public deserves a answer. Don’t get like Washington beautc people and be so secretive. You know we all enjoyed his part of the news. Once again we your devoted watchers would like an explanation.

  3. Need to bring Craig back! I am sure his Christian belief’s and standing on them is a part of it or being neg. about left wing! well guess what KAIT? my husband stop watching a long time ago because of half news stories, I do tune in for the weather but I also have a weather app for my area, ABC tells half truths & the news people have to fall in line or be shown the door….just another disgraceful act on main stream media

  4. While I understand everyone’s frustration at wanting and not getting the information it still doesn’t change the fact that it is not the public’s business as to why Rickert is no longer with the station. It could be that Rickert made the decision to leave. Everyone has jumped to the assumption the he was let go by the station for some unknown reason. That could be true as well. If Rickert wanted everyone to to know why he wasn’t at the station he could be forthcoming unless he’s covered by some confidentiality clause in his contract. I just don’t get why everyone thinks everything is their business. Yes, he was a beloved anchor and will be missed but why he is no longer with the station just isn’t anyone’s business.

      • I think I will just go with one of the Memphis channels and
        Face book for little rock station
        A very good anchor is gone and will be missed.

    • If he had left on good terms, the station probably would have done something on-air in the way of a farewell to his co-workers and viewers rather than just having him not show up one night and erasing him from KAIT’s social media. Clearly something bad went down; it remains to be seen whether the station is refusing to comment as a courtesy to Rickert or to cover their own asses for a questionable termination.

    • They need to make some kind of public announcment. It can be vage but watching Craig on the news is like family they owe it to the community

  5. Maybe they have no answer to everyone’s questions they are asking. If there is no answer then we all will know that there was no unfounded reason for his firing. Everyone there might need to be looking for another job they just might be next. ( Just saying) Let’s see who they bring on board to they his place.

  6. He probably made a politically incorrect statement. Isn’t that why anyone gets fired these days? Hurt someone’s feelings????

  7. One of the best news reporter I’ve ever seen. You need to bring him back or we need to stop watching Kait 8.

  8. they are never going to say anything

    it was 1 of 2 things
    1 crimestoppers
    or disagreement with coroy J White

    i do think u need to look at Coroy pef for only hiring woman i think there something fishy there

  9. Thankfully, Channel 8 is not our only option for news/weather. Enjoyed Craig’s appearance on news. He will not have trouble finding another job. You always run asking others for comments, why not comment on his leaving. One of the best news people I’ve heard. You’ll not find another as good as him.

    • there is not a choice in jonesboro no more WMC 5 and CBS FOX have no news departments what Craig should do its lead anchor at channel 7 or 11 in little rock or go to Iowa City where he can do news or sports and he loves the Iowa hawk eyes

  10. I would suggest the best way to get the answers you want from KAIT is to go through their sponsors and advertising customers . Hit em in the pocketbook and that changed things fast !

  11. I THINK IT WILL HURT THE STATION CRAIG IS A GREAT NEWSMEN & WE WANT HIM BACK BUT YOU KNOW HE MIGHT NOT WANT TO COME BACK HE[S GOOD HE WON’T HAVE A PROBLEM & IT COULD BE EVEN BETTER FOR HIM BUT FOR SURE YUO WILL BE MISSED CRAIG…

  12. Unless the people get qn answer from Craig Rickert. I think the majority of the viewers will assume he was fired because of doing a great job, being too conservative and not petting the liberals enough. I don’t think most people will believe the station’s story anyway because they took to long to say anything if they do now. Which looks like they took this time to make up a fake story in case they get a lot of backlash. I wrote Craig several years ago and told him that he is the best anchorman KAIT has ever had. And I mean ever. Craig could get hired by a major national news station, he’s that good. But, I would rather he stay here. As far as what I read about him doing Crime Stoppers, don’t even think of trying to say that is the reason and putting the blame on Craig. It takes more than him to do that segment, and there was nothing wrong with it, it was a an excellent segment. I read where he said arrested while the person was still being considered innocent by the law until proven guilty. When a person gets arrested for something, it is put in every newspaper and tv station in the country. I don’t know if it is KAIT or VIACOM, but either way, I think the viewers have a right to know. If he was fired which I think most people feel that way as well, we deserve an answer. But, we deserve it from Craig, because I don’t think many people will believe KAIT at this point. If you think I can’t do without KAIT NEWS. Think again! I don’t know who White is, but I’ve seen Conroy as of late giving those comments toward the end of the broadcast. I thought he was a stand up guy. But now I think he’s a wolf in sheep clothing until I’m proven otherwise. KAIT you just lost another news viewer. And I hope there is enough pressure put on the advertisers to withdraw their ads to make you bring him back if he wants to come back. However if he doesn’t want to because of getting a raw deal, then I hope the people that made the decision to get rid of Craig gets fired because of lack of viewers and advertisers. If you want me to make my opinion any clearer, just let me know.

  13. Liberalism in action. They believe in free speech as long as you say what they want. Disagree and you are spouting hate speech.

  14. There will never be a statement from Kait. Time will solve their problem for them. We have short memories and even if they do make some sort of statement it probably want be factual. Kait may be trying to protect themselves for a lawsuit. If they are sued then the facts will be known.

  15. If a person gets fired for saying stamp the thugs, or book the thugs,is that called freedom of speech? Craig did a great job doing Crime stopper.. I pray that Craig will go to something that we can see his smiling face again.. Best News anchor 8 has ever had. I know I can’t stand the fake giggles and try to not be in the room that 8 is on..

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