Category Archives: Television

When Is The 10:00 News?

By Leslie Lang

Rick Blangiardi was keynote speaker at a Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board meeting on Wednesday. He spoke about how today’s (and yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s) rapidly changing technology is changing the news business. It was interesting to hear an overview of how much TV has changed, and how quickly, and why.

Blangiardi worked in media for decades, both here in Hawai‘i (he started with KGMB back in 1977) and on the mainland—where, among several other positions, he was president of the Spanish-language television network Telemundo. Now he’s back in Hawai‘i, where he first moved in 1965 and where he said his heart has been ever since.

In 2009, he took over as general manager of Hawaii News Now (HNN), a new concept in television here:

Hawaii News Now is the name of the news department shared by three television stations in Honolulu, Hawaii: CBS affiliate KGMB (channel 5), MyNetworkTV affiliate KFVE (channel 9) and NBC affiliate KHNL (channel 13). The newscasts are produced by Raycom Media, which owns KGMB and KHNL and operates KFVE (owned by MCG Capital Corporation) through a shared services agreement. – Wikipedia

Remember how every evening there used to be an announcement, like, “Tonight’s 10 o’clock news will start at ten minutes after 10”? Programming wasn’t the same as on the mainland, he said, “and we didn’t follow any of the rules.”

Not only did Hawai‘i have to wait for its copies of mainland programs to physically arrive by boat (isn’t that amazing to think about now!), but many people were not able to see television broadcasts at all, because the island’s topography caused poor reception in some areas. There was no cable distribution, and it was a wholly different ballgame.

In 1989, computer technology came to television, and that’s when it became possible to measure the television watching audience here. Hawai‘i became part of the national television index, and television stations here were asked to clean up their act and start their programs on time. That’s when the 10:00 news started airing at 10.

In the last four to five years, he said, changes have been unprecedenced. The collapse of the state’s economy in 2008 “brought all of us to our knees,” he said. Even before that, stations had been struggling for advertising dollars. The advertising marketplace had changed and it was hard to support the four local news operations Honolulu had at the time.

In 2007, a group of investors bought the highly-competitive-with-each-other television stations. There was a lot of scrutiny about the deal, he said, but they carefully vetted everything through lawyers and FCC regulations before announcing the consolidation of stations. The stations became Hawaii News Now, and it created an incredible opportunity.

Their plan was to combine resources and provide something Hawai‘i had never seen before. Using these extensive resources, and the ability to hire the best people, they commited to producing what’s now 40.5 news hours per week and became a 24-hour news operation.

Technology has opened up a whole new perspective. Now, he said, people go to the computer and expect news around the clock. For instance, during a recent period of huge surf on O‘ahu, HNN had 10 million page views on mobile platforms in a week, and another 2.5 million on the web.

Two hundred and seventeen thousand people like Hawaii News Now on Facebook. “If they ‘like’ you, they’re inviting you in,” he said. “You’re part of the family. It’s like when the kids go to college; we hear about it. It’s all unprecedented. The readers can reach in and touch us. Everybody has some kind of device in their hand and people expect to be able to communicate like that now. (HNN Reporter) Mileka Lincoln, she’s a rock star! It’s a whole different dynamic.”

The other huge change, he said, is that they no longer only broadcast over the air. The technology they use to distribute their programs is pretty sophisticated and wide-ranging now—methods I imagine no one dreamed of back when he started in television.

What especially seemed to resonate with the group of HIEDB forward-lookers is when he said that every plan and every decision they make is done with an eye toward the future. He said it’s taken him four years to get the staffing at HNN just right, and now he feels very good about the people working there and how they are moving Hawaii News Now toward a still-changing future. He’s also glad they’ve been able to bring talented people back home from the mainland, where they moved to pursue careers, and give them good jobs here—like the aforementioned Mileka Lincoln.

“Hawai‘i is more sophisticated than many other places when it comes to wired technology,” he said. “We’ve really evolved into a 21st-century electronic company.” HNN is a statewide television organization and tries to be inclusive of the neighbor islands; he points out that the morning program Sunrise is going on the road 15 times this year. When they come to the Big Island each spring to cover Merrie Monarch, he said, they actually put their expensive truck filled with very high technology equipment on the barge and bring it with them—but even that technology is changing now.

Technology has always driven the television business, he said, but never to the extent things are changing today as we continue to careen into the Digital Age. He said that he’s always asking his staff: “Where are the new ideas? What are we going to do that’s new and different? What are we doing right now, at the end of February, that’s different from what we did a year ago?”

Richard Ha said later that this is a question  people in every industry, who understand all the changes we are going through right now, should be asking themselves.

He told me he was interested in how Rick used his iPhone to illustrate how dramatically things had changed in the last four or five years. Handheld mobile devices made it possible for people to report things instantaneously—just click and send. And then people wanted to receive their news the same way; on their handhelds.

“It was an unprecedented change, and HNN challenged themselves by thinking outside of the box,” said Richard. “We are constantly challenging ourselves, too, by asking how we can stay relevant to a rapidly changing tomorrow.”

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Watch Richard & Tracy on KITV-News Tonight; & Some Photos

Richard's segment on KHON news last night was interesting! Always something new.

If you didn't catch the piece, titled, "Local farmer turns to natural cleaner to kill bacteria," you can watch it here:

Richard Ha on KHON-2 News

Lara Yamada of KITV came by and she interviewed us there, as well. Here she is with Tracy. This segment will run on tonight's KITV News.

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Here's Richard speaking to Olena Heu. This was at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room at Ala Moana.

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Olena Heu interviewing Alan Wong.

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With Vincent Kimura, of the Innovi Group.

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Olena tested her cell phone, and then some tomatoes, for bacteria, and then again after treating them with ozone. Watch the segment to see what she discovered! Really interesting.

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– Leslie Lang
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Richard Explains On Video Re: Kuokoa Takeover Of HEI

This video talks about why we, as Kuokoa, are buying HEI: It is to retool HEI, so the utility can help us all cope in the future. I filmed it for Eco TV a few days ago. It’s in four parts, each 4 or 5 minutes long.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

This video will be going out on the social media circuit and on mainstream TV.

Although some folks are attacking “the messenger,” the average person we talk to says, “It’s about time something is done.”

We are serious! Our data shows that this will work, and the higher oil prices climb, the better it will work.

This is about taking care of everyone. The result will be to lower electricity costs across the state, keep some money in our pockets as prices skyrocket everywhere else, and to strengthen the aloha spirit. For that is what we will need to help us cope with an uncertain future.

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Chefs A’ Field

RThe national PBS episode “Chefs A’ Field,” which Chef Alan Wong did with Keaukaha School, will air on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 5 p.m. It will also run on Saturday, November 21 at 6:30 p.m. and on Monday, November 30 at 9:30 p.m.

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Chef Alan is just great with the 6th graders. I didn’t realize how animated the students were until I watched the trailer. I can’t wait to see the whole thing myself.

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PBS Program

If you click here, and then on “Episodes,” and then “Episode 9,” you’ll find the Chefs Afield segment called “Sustainable Hawaii.”

It’s the program we wrote about awhile back. The one where they didn’t try very hard with their Hawaiian pronunciations, and PBS Hawai‘i refused to air it unless they fixed the audio.

They did.

Have a look at the trailer. It features Honolulu Chef Alan Wong, and Richard and the farm are on it too.

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Hawaiian Language Story Ends Happily Ever After

Whew! There’s a good finish to the story we told you about the other day — the one in which Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS Hawai‘i, took a stand and told the producers of a national program that PBS Hawai‘i wouldn’t air their documentary, filmed on the Big Island, unless they redid the narration to correct the pronunciation of Hawaiian words.

It’s a program that Richard appears in, yet he agreed with her position 100 percent.

The problem with the Hawaiian language as originally narrated wasn’t a “malihini’s earnest stumbling,” Leslie wrote, but a “cavalier approximation.” And yet the show’s producers dismissed her concern.

Richard told me, “I posted on Leslie’s blog that I didn’t mean to put pressure but that I know that even President Obama, who grew up here, would cringe.

“It makes me chuckle to think what that must have been like,” he says, “when the light finally went on. ‘Phone for you. I don’t know what he wants; he says he’s the President of the United States.'”

As support for PBS Hawai‘i’s position swelled, the program’s producer capitulated a bit and offered to let PBS Hawai‘i re-narrate the program that would air here — but not to the rest of the country.

Leslie didn’t let it go.

And now, a happy ending. The program’s producers have agreed to redo the documentary’s narration.

Keola Donaghy of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo volunteered to record an audio sample of the correct pronunciations, and then coached the mainland narrator by phone until he had it down. He also listened as the narrator committed the words to tape.

Leslie Wilcox writes:

“Good job by the voice man, a respected on-air talent who was open to learning and who learned quickly. Keola says the man ended up pronouncing the words better than some Hawaii natives.”

Read her full blog post about this here.

Leslie Wilcox and PBS Hawai‘i, we salute you!

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PBS Hawaii Takes A Stand, And We Agree

We are watching with interest something that is unfolding over at PBS Hawai‘i.

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS, first wrote about it in her blog post titled Plowing Thru Hawaiian Words Without a Clue:

Our management team at PBS Hawaii made an easy call today. We decided to tell the producers of a national series that we won’t air a particular episode unless they re-do their narration, to pronounce key Hawaiian words correctly.

… For example, Hualalai is pronounced (twice) as Hula Lolly.

This is a show that came to Hawaii and didn’t do its cultural homework. As a result, the show suffers a loss of credibility.

…We’re not perfect, either. But we believe it’s important to make one’s best effort—to learn phonetic basics rather than plow through Hawaiian words without a clue.

Local stations are the heart of the PBS system, and so is education. Let’s hope this show decides to go back to the audio booth, to backtrack and re-track, and give all of the TV markets in which it airs the authenticity and quality that viewers deserve.

She writes that she thinks it’s otherwise a fine program, and hopes to be able to air it.

Even before I realized that this was a program Richard was interviewed by and appears on – we wrote about it here at the blog – I was really interested in this situation. I agree that it’s a sign of respect for a culture when you try to pronounce its language correctly; and a sign of disrespect when you don’t make any effort at all.

The following day, Leslie Wilcox acknowledged all the hundreds of hits and positive comments her initial blog post received in a post she titled Sticking Up for the Hawaiian Language:

Wow, do we feel the love! The love and respect for the HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE that so many of you have…

Thank you for voicing your support of PBS Hawaii’s decision to insist on authenticity – in the narration of an episode in national TV series. In the show, shot on location on Hawaii Island and prepared for U.S. broadcast next month, the narrator badly mispronounces well-known Hawaiian words, like Mauna Kea (“Mona Kay”).  Keaukaha, the name of the pono-embracing public school on Hawaiian Homestead land in Hilo, is unrecognizable.

My blog entry on this subject last evening received hundreds and hundreds of hits overnight, and kept racking up hits all day. It was Facebooked and Twittered.

Then I read on and realized I knew what program she was talking about.

I’m struck by the reverence for the Hawaiian language and culture—especially as I notice a post on my blog by Hamakua Springs Country Farm owner Richard Ha. He has every reason to push for this TV program to run, no matter what, because he’s a featured interviewee on the show and the exposure would undoubtedly help his business in tough times.

Instead Richard writes after watching an advance copy of the show: “I cringed when I saw it.” He thanks us for “doing the right thing.” Inspiring, huh?

And then I was stunned when I read her next post, titled What if the Narrator Got THEIR Home’s Name Wrong?, which talked about the initial response she got from the program’s production company.

…A representative of the TV production company is in effect dismissing PBS Hawaii’s concerns as a matter of nuance. Here’s a direct quote from an email: “Subtleties and variations in pronunciation are bound to happen with such an old and regionalized language. We understand there are varying opinions and outlooks such as yours…”
  
This is nonsense.

…Keola Donaghy of UH Hilo says he will provide audio of the correct pronunciation of the place-names or make an expert available to talk with the show’s narrator at no cost.
  
Too late, too expensive, the production company is saying.
  
Question: If the narrator identified the producers’ own home base, Annandale, Virginia, by a name unrecognizable to the region’s residents, would it feel compelled to correct the mistake?

Such an interesting position for a production company, which airs its programs on PBS stations across the nation, to take. Defensive. Dismissive. I’m surprised, frankly, at the cavalier attitude.

If I make an error in my work, I am chagrined and count the minutes until I can get back to the computer to correct it. What is the difference here?

Do the producers of this program really view the local regions they go into, and in this case that region’s culture and language, with such contempt?

Richard told me, “Imagine if President Obama, who grew up in Hawai‘i, saw that program. I’m sure he’d cringe.”

In a comment to her most recent post, Leslie Wilcox writes that the wind may be a changin’.

There’s an indication that the production company’s attitude may be changing. I’ll put in a call Monday morning and find out more.

We’ll keep you posted.

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More on the Pacific Century Fellows’ Big Island Trip

But first, a program note!

Richard will be featured this Saturday, February 7, 2009, at noon on the PBS show Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie. It’s an episode called Hawaii’s Big Island: A Food Lover’s Paradise.

If you see it, we’d love to hear your comments.

PBS Hawai‘i is also replaying its Long Story Short episode featuring Richard on Sunday (2/8) at 4 p.m. (Richard says it’s too much for me to go on and on about all these television shows he actually asked me not to but I thought you might want to know.)

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“Hawaii will face numerous challenges in the upcoming years. If our island home is to prosper economically, socially and culturally, we need to identify and support the emerging generation of leaders. By nurturing them, we will ensure the future of Hawaii.” 


— Mufi Hannemann, Founder and Chairman, Pacific Century Fellows

The Pacific Century Fellows program, which we wrote about here when the group of up-and-comers visited Hamakua Springs recently, is a leadership program founded by Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann after the White House Fellows program he participated in during the 1980s.

From its website:

The objective of the Pacific Century Fellows Program is to develop leaders with a greater awareness and sensitivity to the people and institutions of Hawaii. Based on the White House Fellows Program, the Pacific Century Fellows Program will bring together annually up to 25 of Hawaii’s most promising individuals from all walks of life, fields and professions. They’ll gain a broader view of civic duty through direct contact with senior community, social and government leaders. The program encourages the development of long-term relationships between leaders young and old, united in their commitment to find creative solutions to the challenges facing the state.

Charlyn Dote is the Pacific Century Fellows program director. She says the yearlong program (which introduces fellows to state-wide topics such as criminal justice, the military, the economy, education, the environment, public safety and others) is significant because community leaders “take off their official hats and talk candidly with the Fellows,” she says. “They share honestly their challenges as a leader. I think most of the Fellows will ascend to very important decision-making positions, and I think they will hopefully make better decisions and have a better understanding.”

Char told us more about the recent Big Island trip the 2008 Fellows took; the same one during which they visited Hamakua Springs.

They started their trip at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, with speakers such as ‘Imiloa’s Associate Director Ka‘iu Kimura and Hawaiian navigation expert Kalepa Baybayan providing cultural background; Dr. Colin Aspin on the Thirty-Meter Telescope; and Gary Fujihara, the Institute for Astronomy’s science education public outreach person, providing background on the economic and educational roles astronomy plays, and on promoting the STEM program.

4959 ImiloaLeft to right: Colin Aspin; Gary Fujihara; Kalepa Baybayan

Then they headed up to Mauna Kea where they had lunch at Hale Pohaku, at 9000 feet, but couldn’t go up to the summit due to 116 mph winds there. Dr. Saeko Hayashi and Dr. Kumiko Yusuda talked to them about the Subaru telescope, and Ronald Laub spoke about the Keck Observatory.

816 Hale PohakuLeft to right: Fellows at Hale Pohaku, which is located at the 9,000 ft. level of Mauna Kea

Dinner that evening, sponsored by the HPM Building Foundation, was at the Hilo Yacht Club. Some of the community members the Fellows met  and spoke with there included Bill Takaba, Managing Director of the County of Hawai‘i; University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng; Barry Taniguchi of KTA Superstores and his son Toby, himself a former Fellow; as well as former Fellow James Takamine, Assistant Vice President of American Savings Bank.

838 Yacht Club dinnerLeft to right: Fellow Chris Leonard; HPM Building Supply Chairman of the Board Bobby Fujimoto; Fellow Paul Pollock and Fellow Jason Fujimoto at the Hilo Yacht Club

It was on their second morning here that they visited Hamakua Springs Country Farms. “Richard is such a visionary person,” says Char. “I wanted him to showcase what he’s doing on the farm, and also how he’s using technology and renewable energy to run the farm, and coming up with ideas outside of the box to sustain his agriculture business. He’s a very good example and role model of how a leader faces up to challenges and works with the community.”

Richard was equally enthusiastic about the Fellows. “I was very excited to interact with our future leaders,” he says. “They were all very bright and focused like a laser beam on the important issues. With leaders like them coming up, I’m optimistic for our future.”

854 Hamakua SpringsRichard, speaking to the Fellows at Hamakua Springs

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877 Tomatoes

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Jason Fujimoto, Vice President and Director of Corporate Operations at HPM Building Supply, says the Hamakua Springs visit was a highlight. “How large it is, the scale and size,” he says; “the different sustainable infrastructure that Richard is putting in to really make his farm sustainable into the future. People see his produce in the stores, but not the operation and not his involvement with the community.”

Char agrees that it was an important visit. “You read in the papers about how difficult farmers have it in terms of running their business,” she says, “but until you go there and hear it firsthand, you don’t realize how important it is to sustain and support our agriculture in the islands.”

While here they also had a private briefing by Ranger Ruth Levin, and the “inside scoop” by Geophysicist Paul Okubo, up at the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. “They had time to walk around and understand how the vog is affecting the island climate, air, agriculture,” says Char.

908 VolcanoFront: Ranger Ruth Levin explaining the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park ecological history and challenges to the environment; left to right in back: Fellows Jan Harada, Paul Pollock, Tim Schools, Amy Hennessey, Jim Lyon

939 Okubo VolcanoFellows with Geophysicist Paul Okubo of the U.S. Geological Survey, in the observatory

Some of the Fellows, she says, said being at Volcano was like being on a different planet. “It’s so quiet, and you can hear the birds and see the trees. It was a reminder to them to take time, slow down, and become more aware of their surroundings.”

923 Lava TubeLeft to right: Fellows Chris Leonard, Amy Hennessey and Jan Harada in the Thurston Lava Tube

I asked Char what she thought the Fellows learned from this Big Island trip. She replied, “I think it was that the economy and the people are very diverse and interesting, and in many ways the community there is home-grown and rural. There are a lot of exciting things that are going on in terms of technology, environment, agriculture, and a lot of challenges.”

When I asked the same question of Big Island Fellow Chris Leonard, President and General Manager of New West Broadcasting Corporation, he told me what one of the other Fellows told him. “She said it’s one of the nice things in this program – that you get the opportunity to see that there are people like Richard, and Barry Taniguchi [of KTA Superstores], who have the passion and desire to make things better.

“Having the opportunity to interact with these people gives us some hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. That there are people aside from ourselves that really want to make things better.”

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Passing the Torch

I just watched the KGMB9-TV special Hokulea – Passing The Torch.

It was about the Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug “passing the torch” to five new navigators.

From Wikipedia:

Born on the island of Satawal in the Caroline Islands, Mau received his knowledge of navigation from an early age, taught first by his grandfather. When he was around 18, through training of a master navigator, he went through sacred ceremony called Pwo.

Through this he became “Paliuw” by a master navigator, through the Weriyeng School of Navigation. Weriyeng School of Navigation, which began on Pollap Island a long, long time ago, is only one of two schools of navigation left in Micronesia.

He is best known for his work with the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, navigating the double-hulled canoe Hokule‘a from Hawaii to Tahiti on its maiden voyage in 1976, and training and mentoring Native Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson, who would later become a master navigator in his own right.

On March 18, 2007 Piailug presided over the first Pwo ceremony for navigators on Satawal in 56 years. At the event five native Hawaiians and eleven others were inducted into Pwo as master navigators. The Polynesian Voyaging Society presented Piailug a canoe, the Alingano Maisu, as a gift for his key role in reviving traditional wayfinding navigation in Hawaii.

Alingano Maisu was built in Kawaihae, Hawaii under the non- profit organization, Nā Kalai Waʻa Moku O Hawaiʻi. The commitment to build this “gift” for Mau was made by Clay Bertelmann, Captain of Makali‘i and Hokule‘a. Maisu was given to Mau on behalf of all the voyaging families and organizations that are now actively continuing to sail and practice the traditions taught by Mau Piailug.

Hundreds of years before the Spaniards and English entered the Pacific, Polynesian navigators were moving back and forth around the ocean, and to and from Hawai‘i, without instruments. Five hundred years ago, Polynesians were the greatest navigators in the world.

In the 1897 introduction that Queen Lili‘uokalani wrote for the Hawaiian creation chant the Kumulipo (she wrote it while she was under house arrest), she noted that Hawaiians were astronomers.

We need to again elevate Hawaiian wayfinding navigator/astronomers to the highest level of respect, similar to how we feel today about astronauts.

In doing that, we will lift our keiki’s aspirations. They will take pride in who they are and they will see that anything is possible.

One way to do this is to continue practicing the sacred science of astronomy on our sacred mountain, Mauna Kea.

If the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for Mauna Kea does not pass, it will likely mean the end of astronomy on Mauna Kea in the near future. Without the CMP, the Thirty-Meter Telescope will be built in Chile, and when the current lease for the rest of the telescopes is up, they will shut down and so will the astronomy program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

We need to support the Comprehensive Management Plan and the Thirty-Meter Telescope for what they can do for our people. For our keiki.

We need to pass the torch.

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