PR Pros Honor Craig O'Neill, Kearney Dietz

PR Pros Honor Craig O'Neill, Kearney Dietz
Award winners Kearney Deitz, left, and Craig O'Neill flank Ben Combs, past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. (Public Relations Society of America)

Craig O'Neill, the radio funnyman who became a TV news anchor over 50 years of entertaining and informing Arkansans, was honored last week by the state's Public Relations Society for his work to advance Arkansas' image.

O'Neill, news anchor of KTHV-TV, Channel 11, took home the Diamond Award from the Arkansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America at a ceremony Friday at the Little Rock Club. The group also presented the chapter's first Lifetime Achievement Award to Kearney Dietz, former president of Arkansas' Independent Colleges and Universities.

O'Neill was honored not only for his half-century of broadcasting, but also for his energetic charity work. He was the master of ceremonies at 366 dances, 42 charity roasts, 28 telethons and two womanless beauty contests. In all, he has hosted more than 9,000 fund-raisers, raising $40 million for Arkansas nonprofits, according to the PRSA. The Diamond Award is the highest external award presented by the organization.

Dietz got the lifetime achievement award, the first in chapter history, in recognition of a long and varied career in organization management, banking, PR and marketing, not to mention commercial real estate. In 2012, after 23 years a president of the AICU, Dietz retired. He is a former chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities State Executives and was on the board of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

Deitz led the Mid-South Chapter of the PRSA as well as the Arkansas Chapter, and was president of the Little Rock unit of the American Cancer Society. He served on the Little Rock School Board and received the distinguished alumnus award from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1990.