LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On any given weekday morning, in the back edit bay at KARK, you’ll find Lew Short.
But this isn’t where his news reel begins. Lew got his start in the mid-1960’s at KATV. Then in 1970, KARK hired him as a film processor. A couple years later, he was promoted to Vacation Relief Photographer, a chance to get out of the dark and capture moving pictures in living color.
“Lew was an outstanding photographer,” says Dave Woodman, Former KARK Anchor.
And management took notice. His temporary work behind the camera quickly led to a permanent position. Then in 1975, Lew received the role of a lifetime… Chief Photographer.
“You never doubted who was the boss. Lew was large and in charge,” says Chuck Maulden, Former KARK Photographer.
“I think the other news photographers who worked under him respected him. And he deserved that respect… a very talented man,” Woodman adds.
“He did a great job of hiring our photographers and scheduling the work and getting the great shots and telling the stories of Arkansas,” says Bob Steel, Former KARK News Director.
“Lew hired me in 1979. I was 22, right out of school. He was my first real boss,” Maulden continues.
Chuck Maulden still remembers his first week on the job covering the Capitol.
“I was right down in front of these senators and reps covering the story and I had Lew’s gear and was trying to change a battery and I was fishing around in his gear bag, unzipped the side pocket and three pair of bright white Hanes underwear fall out in front of God and everybody,” he says.
Lew lesson number one, always be packed and prepared for anything. But there were also Lew’s life lessons.
“To me Lew was very much like my dad, high on common sense, high on expectation, anything short of your best effort was met with a kind of gruffness,” Maulden recalls.
“You knew when you screwed up, but like my dad, there was a lot of mercy. He and his wife Lynn both, they treated us like their young kids. We just had a ton of fun together,” he says.
Sometimes at the Chief’s expense.
“He doesn’t like to be in front of the camera,” says Lynn Short, Lew’s Wife.
But behind it, Lew Short was KARK’s main anchor.
“He was our Chief Photographer and you went to Lew for everything and he took care of you,” Maulden says.
“Lew knew a lot of people. He had a lot of contacts,” says Woodman.
And most of them wore badges.
“I believe he was a frustrated policeman. He wanted to be a policeman and that was one of his ways that he could be around law enforcement, plus all of the ones that he was around were wonderful people,” Lynn Short adds.
“I think Lew slept with a scanner in those days. He probably still does,” Maulden says.
“When the police changed their tone of voice, he would wake up and see what it was and immediately jump up and put his clothes on and leave,” recalls Lynn.
“I remember Lew being one of the most fearless people I’d ever met. He and Gene Stewart, God rest his soul, would go on any dangerous assignment. It wouldn’t matter what it was, shots fired, chemical spills, inmates on the loose, Lew and Gene went in with cameras blazing,” says Maulden.
And then there was the time when Arkansas was on the brink of a nuclear disaster at the Titan II missile complex in Damascus… where Lew stood on the front lines.
“When the door came off, it went the opposite way of where Lewis and all the photographers were. And if it had-a gone towards them, it’d probably have hit all of them,” Lynn says.
He escaped the missiles in 1980, but not the 250-pound high school football player in 2001.
“He was looking through the lens of the camera and didn’t see the running back coming straight at him,” Woodman explains.
But in true Lew fashion…
“He got the shot of the guy who hit him,” says Woodman.
And the camera never hit the ground. Unfortunately, Lew did… and hard.
“The result was a broken leg,” Woodman says.
It ended up permanently sidelining his career as a photographer, which brings us back to the back edit bay, where, since 2002, Lew has been the morning show editor.
“Lew has the ideal job now. He goes to work at 3 o’clock in the morning and gets off at noon and goes and plays golf,” Woodman says.
But before his tee time, it’s news time, stories need to be edited, so here sits Lew Short… a giant in Arkansas TV news.
“I don’t really think that the photography or the photojournalism or the technology would be anywhere near where it is today without Lew’s part in it,” says Dana Dussing Berry, Former KARK Anchor.
“He’s like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps on going and going and going… He’s a big part of Little Rock’s broadcasting history. He’s a legend. We will always remember Lew. He’s just unforgettable,” Maulden says.
“I don’t know of anybody else that loves his job more than he did, but he’s one of a kind,” Lynn continues.
“He didn’t just work for Channel 4. He was Channel 4,” Woodman adds.
And still is. A KARK legend who continues to write and edit his own legacy.