By Kim Meyer Webb | Photography by Dero Sanford
As Craig O’Neill reflects on his civic leadership, he realizes it’s the people and stories that keep him intrigued. “I have always been one to get caught up in a story. Working at THV11 has brought this to light. I love contributing and watching a story unfold. That always meant staying put. So now, it’s a city and state where there are no strangers.”
Craig considers his tenure of more than 50 years in broadcasting as “an exercise in service.” He explains, “I wanted to please people who asked me for help and be a part of something larger.” That translated into countless events – from barbeques to banquets – for organizations across the state. When asked about his favorites, Craig insists – “Every fundraiser, every auction, every stunt… At that moment, that cause was #1 to me.”
After a 2014 school performance of The Grinch that Stole Christmas, starring Craig as the Grinch, he reconsidered his love for stories and children. His heart grew three sizes that day; Craig established an initiative to promote literacy and the JOY of reading. The Reading Roadtrip introduces students to reading-related activities and games. Craig traveled to schools each week, prior to the pandemic, and recorded a Reading Roadtrip feature for the evening news. “I became a born again reader with a mission to preach and teach emotional intelligence in Arkansas schools. The Grinch cinched and pinched and wrenched my consciousness to a new form of volunteering.” Currently, Reading Roadtrip offers virtual opportunities for students to tune in and read along with Craig.
Through all the years of service and shenanigans, Craig’s vision + optimism for the future is unwavering. “My hometown is one of limitless possibilities.” As a student of Little Rock Central High School, Craig learned the value of volunteerism and a broader perspective of global equity. “As humans we have established cooperative societies that allow individuals to thrive as long as each person contributes. Through community, we all become stronger and help others become stronger. That is power of philanthropy.”
Craig’s Contributions: Attended 9,000 events | Volunteered 30,000 hours | Raised $40 million in proceeds