LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In 1978, KARK felt it was time to give the Channel 4 anchor desk a new look.
“Management decided we needed a female and they went to Mississippi and found Carolyn Long,” says Dave Woodman, Former KARK Anchor.
And the rest is Arkansas television history.
“She came in and fit into our pattern immediately. She became the co-anchor with Roy (Mitchell). So it was Roy, Carolyn, Tom Bonner on weather and I was doing sports,” Woodman continues.
“I think the reason that she was part of the success of Channel 4 becoming what it was at that time was that she was the real deal. She was a professional on camera and off camera and she was just as genuine in person as she was on the air,” says
Dana Dussing Berry, Former KARK Anchor.
“Carolyn Long just pulled in the audience that we didn’t already have. She was attractive to the male audience but she wasn’t a threat to the female audience, so we had husbands and wives who were both drawn to us in even greater numbers than we had before Carolyn came on board,” Woodman explains.
“She was much loved by the viewers of Arkansas and the state of Arkansas,” says Bob Steel, Former KARK News Director.
“She made herself relatable and personable and kind and that’s something that carried through, I believe, way beyond the television camera and into everyone’s living rooms,” Berry says.
Dana Dussing Berry worked as a weekend weather woman for KARK. In the early 80’s she moved to Little Rock from Texas… where everything is bigger.
“I noticed everyone had a blonde, bob haircut and I couldn’t figure out this haircut because we all had big hair and everyone had the same hair here. I soon figured out everyone was emulating their favorite television anchor. It was Carolyn Long,” she recalls.
“She simply mesmerized people in public, especially young men and older men. I always thought it was amusing to see what star-struck look they had in their eyes. She truly was a superstar,” says Chuck Maulden, Former KARK Photographer.
And when she was on the air, everyone, I mean everyone, was watching.
“I wanted to send my love and congratulations tonight to Carolyn Long. You have blazed such a trail for women in journalism. You’ve made such a difference in all of our lives for a very long time in Arkansas,” says Mary Steenburgen, Actress/Arkansas Native.
“What you saw on the air is exactly what she was like off camera. She was sweet, kind, professional, sharp, always looked like a million dollars,” Maulden continues.
“Carolyn was generally relatable on every level, even though she was more beautiful than all the rest of us,” Berry says.
Beauty and talent, Carolyn Long was the total TV package.
“When you saw the compassion that she had for the individuals that she worked with on those stories, that’s when compassion came through whether she was telling a story about a fire or somebody who had good news in their day,” Berry adds.
“Carolyn came through the camera,” says Woodman.
“She was a person who could make you laugh and she could tell you a story that would make you cry, too, because she was a great storyteller,” Berry says.
And no where was that more evident than “Wednesday’s Child.”
“She was perfect for that assignment. She could go out and she could identify with the children. She could identify with foster parents, whoever she needed to on that project. And it was a wonderful project and Carolyn just pulled it of as probably no one else could have,” Woodman says.
“I was there doing her rise in popularity. She was genuine and real from the start and she never lost that. And to this day, if you see Carolyn, she is as genuine and warm in person as she ever has been. She hasn’t changed a bit,” says Maulden.
Carolyn Long, the anchor snatched from Mississippi, who never changed, yet, forever changed the face of TV news in Arkansas.