Craig O’Neill, longtime Arkansas news anchor and broadcaster, to retire Dec. 29

THV11 anchor Craig O'Neill shown in this 2017 file photo. O'Neill he is retiring at the end of the year. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Craig O’Neill, longtime Little Rock news anchor with KTHV, announced he will be retiring this December after more than 50 years in broadcasting.

O'Neill has worked at KTHV for 24 years and will sign off for the last time as the station’s 10 p.m. news anchor on Dec. 29, according to a release from the news station.

“Yes, I’m retiring and this time I mean it,” he said in the release. He has made several “delayed retirement announcements” in recent years, according to the news station.

O’Neill said that the decision to retire now was a biological thing.

“It’s just one of those things, and you know it’s time,” he said in an interview Monday afternoon.

O’Neill said in the release that “it is time to move on and leave THV11 [KTHV] in the capable hands of the strong personalities that grace the ‘B.J. Sams Studio’ day and night. At THV11, our legacy is our strength.”

GALLERY: Fun, charity and the news: THV11's Craig O'Neill announces retirement

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, O'Neill said he’d miss a lot of things working in news and broadcasting.

“Without a doubt, I will miss the collaboration at the TV station, the people I am working with and have worked with as well as being a part of telling stories, I love telling stories,” O’Neill said.

“I’ve learned the true power of stories. We tend to think it’s about me, me, me but in the last 24 years I’ve learned that it’s about you, you, you, you. I’ve been lucky to collaborate and share stories about you,” he said.

The news anchor has won a regional EMMY and the Edward R. Murrow award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcast Journalism, the release said. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the NATAS Mid-America Gold Circle for his fifty-plus years in broadcasting.

O’Neill graduated from Central High School in 1968 and from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 1972, according to the news station. His career as a deejay began in 1969 and he became the host of ESPN2 Outdoors in 1995. O’Neill became the stadium announcer for all home football games for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1997.

“There has never been a dull moment in my almost 55 years of broadcasting. Never a dull moment,” O’Neill said.

“He danced on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, interviewed music icon Dolly Parton, led election coverage with his extensive knowledge of Arkansas politics, and broadcast encouragement from his kitchen table during the pandemic,” the release said.

O'Neill has emceed more than 9,000 charity events and has helped raise over $40 million for Arkansas and its communities, according to the news station.

KTHV News Director Shayla Teater said in the release, “Working with Craig is as fun and fulfilling as you might imagine. His passion for reading, for highlighting real Arkansans stories and watching his pure joy as those around grow are my favorite things about him.” Teater adds his “ability to get huge interviews and his incredible writing will be missed, but most of all we will miss his leadership, his zest for life, and his humor.”

“Craig’s contributions to Central Arkansas are notable from his undying commitment to improving the lives of Arkansans to his irreverent sense of humor that had us all wanting more,” said Marty Schack, president and general manager at KTHV. “He is a treasure to our community and while we may not see him on air after this year, I know that Craig will continue to make an impact on Arkansans young and old.”

O'Neill said that he will not stop participating in events that improve children’s literacy.

“Hopefully [that work] will continue in as many places in Arkansas as I can reach,” he said.

O’Neill said that after retirement, he will begin focusing on what he calls “narrowcasting,” instead of broadcasting. He plans to use social media, a Facebook channel and a podcast to keep telling stories.

“I just want there to be more of me,” he said, “In reporting, you just can’t use adjectives when you’re telling the truth.”

He said he plans to begin working on “narrowcasting” in 2024 to share more of “the land between [his] ears” with Arkansans.