KUAR/KLRE, the public radio station at UALR, reports that station general manager Ben Fry died in his sleep last night of an apparent heart attack. He was 54.
He’d been general manager of the station since 1995, after joining the station in 1988 as news and information director.
A Wynne native, he worked in radio beginning as a high school student and came to Little Rock in 1980 to attend UALR. In addition to leading the station, he taught classes in motion picture history, criticism and screenwriting, and served as the coordinator of film studies.
KUAR’s release on Fry’s death:
The longtime general manager of public radio stations 89.1 KUAR and Classical 90.5 KLRE has died.
Ben Fry, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate, joined the stations on the UALR campus in 1988 and served as general manager since 1995.
Fry died unexpectedly in his sleep Wednesday night. He was 54. Arrangements are pending.
“He held the weight of KUAR and KLRE on his shoulders and was the chief advocate for public radio in central Arkansas,” said Nathan Vandiver, who has been named acting general manager.
As GM, Fry oversaw all administrative and operational aspects of the radio stations. He recently was slated to coordinate the launch of Natural State News, a statewide news service focusing on reaching rural areas of the state. KUAR is scheduled to be the lead station for the four-station collaboration made possible by a $278,300 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Fry also was a valued member of the UALR College of Social Sciences and Communication, bringing ease, grace and a sense of humor to the college’s leadership team, said Lisa Bond-Maupin, founding dean of the college.
He was a true collaborator, who, in addition to his work with the radio stations, taught as an adjunct professor in the Mass Communication Department and worked with UALR TV, Bond-Maupin noted.
Regardless of the circumstances, Fry had a knack for remaining calm and saw the radio stations through growth and change, Bond-Maupin said.
“He loved public radio, film, and Arkansas,” Bond-Maupin said.
It would be difficult to overstate what Fry meant to the radio stations, Vandiver said.
“We’re forever in debt to him for his service to public radio and everyone in central Arkansas,” Vandiver said.
Coverage by KUAR can be found here (http://ualrpublicradio.org/post/ben-fry-longtime-general-manager-kuar-and-klre-dies#stream/0)