Randy Dixon, former news director of KATV in Little Rock, has been chosen to be director of the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas. His selection was made after an extensive national search. He began his duties today (Jan. 14).
“I am very pleased to have someone with the passion and the qualifications of Randy Dixon,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “The work of the Pryor Center is of tremendous importance to anyone who cares about the people and the history of our state. I can think of no one better to lead this project into the future.”
The Pryor Center was established in 1999 with a gift of $220,000 from unexpended campaign funds by then-Sen. David Pryor. In 2005 a $2 million gift from Don Tyson and his family provided an endowment for the center, enabling it to expand its staff and purchase additional equipment. The university Board of Trustees renamed the center in honor of Sen. Pryor and his wife, Barbara.
The mission of the Pryor Center is to document Arkansas history by collecting audio and video interviews and images from the people who have witnessed and been a part of the state’s past.
The center staff has compiled hundreds of interviews and images over the past 14 years, and its archive has grown to include 24,000 hours of video and news film, dating back to the 1950s, that was donated by KATV in 2009. The goal of the center is to make this material available to the public and to students and researchers at all academic levels.
“Randy Dixon will be an outstanding addition to the Pryor Center and the important work it has to do in the coming years,” Archie Schaffer, chair of the center’s advisory board. “Having spent over 30 years in the television news business in Arkansas, he knows our state, its history and its culture. Randy is intimately familiar with the KATV archives that have been donated to the Pryor Center. He has been a consultant to the center for the past year, working to digitize those important records and make them accessible to school children and others interested in the oral and visual history of Arkansas. The Pryor Center is poised to move to the next stage in its development, and Randy Dixon is the ideal person to provide the leadership needed to make that happen.”
Dixon had a 31-year career in the news department at KATV. He began as a news photographer and worked his way up to the position of news director, which he held for 10 years. As news director he oversaw all aspects of all local newscasts and managed a staff of more than 60 people.
Dixon has twice served as president of the Arkansas Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association and was on the board of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Chapter for four years. In 2010, he was inducted into the Emmy’s Silver Circle of Achievement.
Dixon founded Dixon Digital Media, a media consulting firm and video production company, in 2011. In August of that year he began working with the Pryor Center to review, evaluate and digitize the KATV archive.
Dixon attended Hendrix College in Conway and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.