If you’re Michael Aaron, you’ve wanted to be in news and broadcasting since you were six years old. It was at this age that Aaron was presented with a unique opportunity. 


“I grew up in Texas, and when I was six years old, the Dallas Cowboys were in town for their annual summer training camp, and locals would come out to watch them practice. A local TV station had a Generation Next Sportscaster contest and I decided to enter it. I interviewed my brother dressed as Troy Aikman, and I won,” Aaron recalled with a laugh. “I got to do the sportscast live from Cowboys Camp, and I fell in love with TV and the idea of being on TV. It was my second day of kindergarten, and my dad explained that the cue cards weren’t helpful because I couldn’t read.”



Generation Next Sportscaster – 1998


But the experience made a lasting impression on Aaron.


“Being on TV is a small part of the job — it’s about telling stories. I grew to love all of those things about the field,” Aaron said. 


Aaron would go on to broadcast school announcements in middle school and was the editor of his yearbook in high school. He got a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin and got a job as an assignment editor at a local NBC station, KXAN.


“I learned so much there and I fell in love,” Aaron said. “I knew I wanted to be a reporter, so I went to Tyler, Texas, and did a little bit of everything.”


Aaron worked as an anchor and reporter at KYTX in Tyler, covering a wide range of stories from tornadoes to legislation. 


“I was promoted to a Sunday morning anchor and produced my own shows, so I got to see every role in the newsroom,” Aaron explained. 


In 2018, Aaron moved to Little Rock and was at THV11 for four years. There, he was on the station’s morning show and reported for them before being promoted to anchor of the noon broadcast. Last May, Aaron made the move to THV11’s sister station in Fort Smith, KFSM. Needless to say, Aaron has become a jack of all trades when it comes to the broadcast industry.



Anchoring at THV11


“I love every position in the newsroom, and I’ve had the opportunity to train people as they were coming in the door to set people up for success. This position at KFSM allowed me to try out the management,” Aaron said.


KFSM’s newsroom was previously located in Fort Smith, but is now located in Fayetteville and serves the Northwestern Arkansas viewership. 


Aaron credits his success to following the stories as devotedly as he can.  


“I’ve worked my way up the ladder, and it comes down to the stories — that’s the most fulfilling part. When we have a great show, or there’s breaking news, and we do a great job informing the community, that’s what matters. It’s hard to point to one thing in particular,” Aaron explained. “A lot of pieces have to come together to tell a good story.”



Reporting for KFSM


When reflecting on his career so far, Aaron struggled to pick a favorite story he has reported on. 


“It’s like picking a favorite child. But there is one that stands out to me. There was one story near the end of my time in Little Rock about a baby with a rare genetic condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The boy’s parents moved to Arkansas a few months before he was born, and Arkansas is one of the states that has a required screening for this condition. Where they moved from, California, did not,” Aaron recalled. “He was diagnosed here, and doctors were able to give him a dose of the world’s most expensive drug, an injection that costs $2 million per dose. He’s now living a normal, healthy life. It was a story about the miracle of timing.”


Aaron shared that when he’s not covering stories in his community, he relaxes by hiking, taking pictures, traveling, trying out new restaurants, enjoying a cup of coffee and playing with his golden retriever. 


He shared some of the challenges that he has faced as a reporter and journalist. 


“Packing up and moving from job to job is something so many of us do for this career, and that’s really tough — having to start over every few years,” Aaron said. “When I got to Little Rock, I slowed down a lot because I liked being here and this community.”


Aaron also discussed the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“The pandemic was a defining moment for journalism as a whole because we were all learning how to adapt to the situation. We’d end up broadcasting from home. It was challenging and fun at first, but then it became draining to change my home into a studio,” Aaron said. “We still use Zoom, but it was hard to keep the stamina. There was a period where we couldn’t go into the field much, but we did eventually with masks and mics on boomsticks. But there for a while, I felt really isolated, just like many people. It was fulfilling, though, to see that we can adapt.” 



Working from home amid COVID-19 pandemic


For Aaron, though, the pandemic provided the opportunity to raise awareness about mental health.


“One of the things THV11 gave me a chance to do was a mental health series on resources for people and possible solutions to improving mental health. I’m open about struggling with anxiety and depression, and to relate with the viewers who were struggling during the pandemic was an opportunity to shine the light on people who were really struggling here in Arkansas,” Aaron said. “I don’t think we can talk about mental health enough, and that series really helped give me a sense of purpose.” 


Aaron took a minute to discuss the Little Rock tornados from late March and the impact that they had on him as a reporter and Arkansas resident.


“I’m in more of a management role now, and when the LR tornado happened . . . watching that happen and tear through the city, I knew I wanted to help. I’d already had plans to come to Little Rock that weekend. In that moment, I was like, ‘I have to go now and help THV11 now,’” Aaron said. “In moments of crisis like that, other stations will come in and help. I made it there that night and helped shoot video and came back on the air for two days, and it was like being home again. That really was different, seeing it in the community that you called home for so long.”



Michael and his pup, Sophie


As he looks back on a very successful and colorful career so far, Aaron offered a few words of advice to individuals interested in going into broadcasting.


“I recently spent a couple of hours answering this question with seniors at UA Fayetteville. My top piece of advice — be hungry to learn about your community and the people around you,” Aaron said. “Understand where you live and the stories happening there. Be hungry to grow and learn from experience and from mistakes and seek out feedback from those around you. I’m still learning every day thanks to the people that I work with. Hunger to never stop learning and growing is so critical.”


Finally, Aaron shared a few of the life lessons he’s learned about community and communications. 


“So much of the news, unfortunately, is having to tell the tough stories and sad stories and tragedies. But something we also get to see is that there is so much good in the world — the power of kindness. The morning after the tornado, we were out at 7:30 in the morning, and people were firing up their chainsaws, and people were showing up with donuts and water and grilling and passing out hot dogs,” Aaron said. “Throughout the pandemic, when things were so tough, it was easy to hone in on how tough things are. I’ve learned to be thankful for what I have because I’ve seen people at their lowest points, and it puts things into perspective. In the words of Mr. Rogers, ‘look for the helpers’ — and there are so many out there.” 


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