Jim Pitcock, former KATV news director and 'giant' of Arkansas TV news, dies at 83

Jim Pitcock attends events for the 2020 UALR Hall of Fame Class in this Jan. 9, 2020 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Rachel O'Neal)
Jim Pitcock attends events for the 2020 UALR Hall of Fame Class in this Jan. 9, 2020 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Rachel O'Neal)

Jim Pitcock, the former news director for KATV and a longtime media figure in Arkansas, died Sunday morning, his family announced. He was 83.

Pitcock died after battling “a short illness,” his son, Len Pitcock, posted on Facebook. Len Pitcock thanked the staff, doctors and nurses at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences “for their unequaled care and respect over the past few days.”

“The friends he made during his career are too many to count,” Len Pitcock added. “He was most proud of his family, sharing his love for, and pride in, each of them during his last days.”

Len Pitcock described his father as “a pioneer in Arkansas television news.” He added that Jim Pitcock started his broadcasting career in Fort Smith “while in high school.”

According to a story posted on KATV’s website, Pitcock began his career in broadcasting at KFSA-TV in Fort Smith in 1957 and transferred to Little Rock's ABC affiliate, KATV, in 1964.

He worked his way up to news director at KATV, and he held that position for more than 30 years, his son said.

After his television career, Pitcock went to work for then-Arkansas Attorney General Mark Pryor. Pitcock spent nearly 10 years on Pryor’s staff, including during Pryor's time in the U.S. Senate.

Friends and admirers posted messages Sunday on social media after word spread of Pitcock’s death.

Larry Foley, a documentary filmmaker and professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, referred to Pitcock on X (formerly Twitter) as “Arkansas’ Edward R. Murrow.”

Skip Rutherford, a former dean at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, also posted on X, calling Pitcock “a giant in the Arkansas media world.”

Rutherford added that the film collection now archived in the university's David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History is one of Pitcock’s “many legacies.”

The X account for KATV News stated that the “visionary journalist” started an archive system that saved years of Arkansas history by preserving “priceless news footage” for future generations.

Details on funeral services were pending as of Sunday afternoon, but Pitcock’s son stated on Facebook that a “celebration of Dad’s life” would be scheduled for later this week in Little Rock, and a graveside service would take place in Fort Smith.

This story has been updated. It was originally published at 4:41 p.m.

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