This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Stephen Owen Stephens (Steve) is a television and communication pioneer in Arkansas, who originally became well known as the host of "Steve's Show," a hugely popular television program in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He has remained a communication specialist as of this posting.
Born in 1930, to Allie and Owen Stephens in Newport, Arkansas, Steve later attended Castle Heights Military Academy, and graduated from Newport High School. Following graduation, he attended the University of Arkansas until the Korean War erupted in 1950, when in his quest for adventure, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Attaining the rank of sergeant, he received three battle stars in Korea. After the Korean Armistice was signed in 1953, he was honorably discharged and returned to Newport.
While in the Marines, he was occasionally asked if he had ever been a broadcaster, as he seemed to have a natural "radio voice." After returning to Newport, he began as a part-time announcer at radio station KNBY, and soon became known as the "Voice of the White River Valley."
His entry into radio coincided with the beginnings of rock and roll, and he soon became a popular proponent of this new type of music. His style began to capture the attention of Little Rock television station KTHV, the Arkansas affiliate of the CBS Television Network, who offered him an entry position as a station announcer.
Shortly after joining the station he began hosting a television dance party in March 1957 which became an instant success. As bus loads of teenagers began arriving from all over the state the show was expanded to six days a week.
Steve helped launch the careers of Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, Brenda Lee, Sonny Burgess, Fabian Forte and many others who appeared on "Steve's Show" during its 8-year run. As a result of his continuing popularity during that time, he was awarded a recording contract, recording, "Pizza Pete," "Honey Bee," "How It Used To Be," and "Weird Session, and was voted, "Arkansas Top Television Personality."
From 1957 until 1965 he served as senior weatherman for KTHV television at both 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm, and was also the first to use Radar in his weather cast. He recorded another first when he became one of the first TV weatherman in the nation to use radar to detect Santa Claus flying into the state.
Steve went on the produce other TV programs for KTHV, including "Eye On Arkansas," which showcased such celebrities as Liberace, Ronald Reagan (before he was Governor of California and later President), Roy Rogers, the cast of the popular TV programs, "The Beverly Hillbillies," and "Ponderosa," Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and many other notables.
In 1965 Steve left television at the invitation of U.S. Senator John Little McClellan to join him on his staff in Washington, D.C. as Special Assistant in charge of Media Relations. In 1968 he returned to Arkansas to form his own advertising, public relations and travel agency.
In 1986 he was approached by financier Jackson T. Stephens, chairman of the investment banking firm of Stephens Inc, to join him as his assistant and director of corporate communications. He remained with Stephens Inc. until his retirement in 1998. Following retirement, he has continued to be active as a "voice talent" for numerous local and national radio and television commercials as well as documentaries. In 2005 he created and is currently narrating a radio program for public radio station KUAR/AETN, entitled, "Biography Arkansas."
Steve also served as a National Trustee for the March of Dimes Foundation for over a decade, and was named an Honorary Life Trustee of the organization in 1998. During that time, he was awarded the "Jonas Salk Lifetime Achievement" award by the Salk Institute for his fund raising efforts on behalf of the March of Dimes.
In recognition of his pioneering achievements in broadcasting, he was inducted into the "Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame," and later his name was added to the "Arkansas Walk of Fame" in Hot Springs. On April 22, 2010 (the anniversary of his birthday), he was recognized by the Eighth General Assembly of the Arkansas House of Representatives with a Lifetime Achievement Citation, "for maintaining a high degree of professionalism and integrity during his 50 years in the business and broadcasting community of Arkansas." In 2011 he was inducted into his hometown (Newport, Arkansas) High School Hall of Fame.
Steve and his son, Steele, a former investment banker, were instrumental in bringing down embattled Arkansas Treasurer of State Martha Shoffner. After turning states evidence, it was revealed the Stephens’ provided cash kickbacks to Shoffner in exchange for a large portion of the state’s bond business. Steele was given immunity after agreeing to arrange a meeting with Shoffner and providing her with $6,000 inside of a pie box. The FBI then raided Shoffner’s Newport home and placed her under arrest. Steele was introduced to Shoffner by his father, a good friend of the embattled politician.
- "Steve Stephens (1930– )". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 8 March 2013.