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Stephens Media Group announced the purchase of the weekly North Little Rock Times and the Maumelle Monitor from David and Kitty Chism of KDC Communications, according to Gary Greene, Cribb & Associates, LLC, who represented the sellers in the transaction. No financial terms were disclosed.

“We are excited to have a publishing presence in the part of Arkansas that our family has called home for almost 80 years,” said Warren Stephens, president of Stephens Group Inc., of Little Rock, the parent company of Stephens Media. The media company publishes 14 newspapers in Arkansas, in addition to North Little Rock and Maumelle.

“Stephens Media Group is committed to Arkansas, and the purchase of the North Little Rock Times and the Maumelle Monitor furthers that commitment to Arkansas readers,” said Sherman Frederick, president and CEO of Stephens Media Group.

Dennis A. Byrd, chief of the Arkansas News Bureau, was appointed publisher. He will continue to oversee the Bureau while taking on new duties in North Little Rock and Maumelle. “I look forward to continuing the editorial excellence at the newspapers established by a long line of news-minded editors and publishers, including Bob McCord, the father of the state’s Freedom of Information Act, Tom Riley, John Thompson, and, of course, David and Kitty Chism,” Byrd said. “These newspapers have talented staff people in all areas of the operation and I look forward to working with them.”

The Times, established in 1898, has long been noted as one of the best written and edited newspapers in the state and nation.

“We are proud of The Times and Monitor and our part in making them great newspapers,” David and Kitty Chism said in a statement. “While we hated to give up the papers, we couldn’t be happier that Stephens Media Group will be taking over. We know the new owners are deeply invested in Arkansas and will continue to provide the best newspapers possible for readers in North Little Rock and Maumelle.”

In 2000 and 2003, The Times was named “The Best of the Best” by the National Newspaper Association among weekly newspapers with 5,000 to 10,000 subscribers, and was second in general excellence in 2002.

Every year since 1995, The Times has finished first in the General Excellence category for large weeklies in the Arkansas Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest, marking it as the best weekly newspaper in the state.

The Maumelle Monitor, established 20 years ago, has grown from a 10-page paper to a weekly product of 16-to-20 pages and reaches almost 70 percent of the residents of the fast-growing city.

“Our goal will be to make great newspapers even better,” Byrd said. “We have some assets at the Arkansas News Bureau that we plan to leverage into the Times and Monitor.” He specifically mentioned columnist John Brummett, editorial cartoonist Vic Harville, and sports columnist Harry King.

Brummett most recently was named the nation’s top political columnist by the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors; Harville is a widely recognized editorial and sports cartoonist who three times has won the Katie award given by the Dallas Press Club and is a five-time winner of the best cartoonist award by the Arkansas Press Association; King is the dean among sports writers covering the Arkansas Razorbacks, spending more than 30 years writing for The Associated Press in Arkansas before joining the Burea in 2002.

Stephens Medial Group is based in Las Vegas, where it publishes its flagship newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In Arkansas, Stephens Media owns three dailies – The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, The Times Record of Fort Smith, and the Pine Bluff Commercial – and 11 other weeklies. It also publishes Hawgs Illustrated magazine, which chronicles everything Razorback.

Stephens Media owns 11 daily newspapers and mre than 30 weeklies across the country. Frederick said Stephens Media Group remains in an acquisition mode. For further information contact Sherman Frederick, president and CEO.

Byrd is an award-winning veteran journalist who has been editor of two Arkansas dailies and the Texarkana Gazette in Texas. He spent nine years at The Associated Press in Little Rock before joining Stephens Media Group in 1996, when it was known as Donrey Media Group. He also served as advertising director of the El Dorado News-Times. He is a graduate of El Dorado High School and Henderson State University, and was named to the university’s Academy of Scholars in 2002.

Cribb & Associates, LLC of Charlottesville, VA, represented the Chism’s in the sale of the newspapers.

Published September 29, 2005

N. Little Rock, AR