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Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s ? Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWKINS

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  • Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s ? Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWKINS

    TV'S REAL LIFE "TED BAXTER" (Mary Tyler Moore Show's buffoon anchorman played by actor Ted Knight)
    (And Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, Leslie Wilcox, Bob Jones and a lot of other memories)

    Burl Burlingham wrote a great memory of KITV-TV 4 (ABC Hawaii) anchorman JACK HAWKINS' last broadcast on Channel 4's news, and here, Hawaii-raised Keoni (Hiroshi) Tyler — now in Hollywood at NBCUniversal — reflects on him, KGMB, Joe Moore's rise, and Hawaii's TV environment in the 1970s~90s.

    He would love to hear your comments on here or on social media, so please reach out — always love to hear from people from his original homeland!


    PART 1 of 5 [thread]

    I am gonna jump around to various topics — all related to TV broadcasting and the subject at hand — but still, long-winded and a curvy journey. I am trying to weave together the environment at the time of Jack Hawkins and his departure. We in film and TV know that our visual mediums have to also add a "look and feel" of the station in the way things are presented: The colors of the logo... the music ... the chosen announcer and what tone is used ("You're watching KITV: Island Television" seems simple, but everything is all by design, because it adds to an emotional tug that is often subconscious to viewers, but equates to how you feel about what you just watched and if you 'take it with you).

    IF YOU WANT TO JUST JUMP TO THE BOTTOM LINE, skip down to Part 5 of 5.

    February 2020

    I grew up in Kalihi, then Aiea and left my island homeland in 1996 when Hollywood enticed me and I needed to spread my wings. Growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood (right after we left, gangs burned down 4 schools in one day including my beloved Puuhale Elementary), I never thought I would be working/producing on the Academy Awards® (our team garnered a Primetime Emmy® nomination for my first Oscar® broadcast); never thought I would get invited to meet BIG stars and have drinks with them or go to their homes; or have the successes and failures I have had in my 24 years in La La land. I still marvel at Hawaii television, and am honored when anchors like Diane Ako interact with me on Instagram. Maybe one day, I will make Hawaii proud, though I am aging quickly. It would be great to be able to give back to my island home.

    Growing up, I was fascinated with TV, video and Hawaii's broadcasters ever since my parents caught me tuning into KHET-11's sign-on test pattern (Google it) — and would call the station and bug technicians to identify the instrumental music they played during that and D.O.E. Educational TV logo "slides? (still pictures like "Television Classroom? and "Inservice Seminar? that filled time before the next educational program started). Just from memory, after I moved to Hollywood in 1996, I would in the late 2000's re-create the test pattern and all the music tracks, and made Blu-ray/DVDs and sent them as a gift to Hawaii Public Television — now branded as PBSHawaii. VP Robert Pennybacker was impressed and even shared the discs with a few old-timers who were about to retire. Robert Pennybacker is a legend who rose at KGMB after college in Los Angeles.

    I was a strange kid: I would sit with my mother's alarm clock watching KITV and other channels and time each commercial break, and would notice a pattern back then: Obviously, it must have been FCC rules. In the 70s, primetime TV had a limit of 9.5 minutes of commercials and 2.5 minutes of station promos ("Tonight on ?Charlie's Angels'?); and you could not break away from the main show more than 5 times an hour; a 6th time was the "Adjacency" (end break) that followed a show's credits, and preceded the start of the next show.

    Fast forward to today, where I sometimes re-cut old tv series, to, unfortunately, squeeze-in more commercials (I worked on re-cutting the original "Hawaii Five-0?). We take those old 1-hours and make room for 18-20 minutes of commercials, and also, break away from the show 10-12 times an hour! That means trying to cut scenes or shots out without taking from the story. A lot of editors just hack it because they have a quota to meet per shift. I was always a fast editor, but as a director, writer (and sometimes producer), I genuinely cared about respecting the legacy of anything I touched, so I watched the episodes carefully then went back to decide what to trim, with respect to the original artists and storytellers (and disdain for what I had to do to earn a living).

    After we re-cut the show, the episode is sent to "Vari-Speed:" They take the new shaved edit I just did and they speed it up 1.5%, but keep the audio pitch the same so actors don't sound like Mickey Mouse. That 1.5% speed-up fits in yet another :30 second commercial! And broadcast and mainstream cable wonders why their audiences eroded.

    All of us kids would love it when KGMB-TV 9 (CBS Hawaii) had "technical difficulties" in the 70s and would play a cool song: Mason William's "Classical Gas," putting a 35mm slide up saying programming would resume momentarily. I mean, it was as cool as hearing the Hawaii-Five 0 theme.


    (End of Part 1 of 5)

  • #2
    PART 2 of 5:

    Others on this wonderful blog of memories noted the amazing marketing the station did with mysterious "HAWKINS" promos — that was it — just a name, then back to "The Love Boat." People would ask me, "What is that?" I replied, "I don't know." That strange name tease was followed weeks later by various anonymous islanders replacing the standard KITV SID (Station Identification required every hour back then) — they stood and looked into the camera: "Hawkins is coming to KITV." Huh? Finally, the last phase of the promos weeks later gave the answer: "Hawkins is coming... to KITV. Hawkins is Jack Hawkins." The man is revealed to the camera. Ahhhh, it has something to do with the news. This was 1978/79.

    I have to touch on the TV environment at the time: CNN was not yet born. Neither was the Internet. The Big-3 affiliates in Hawaii made all the money. KITV-4 (ABC) would be sold in this era for $50mil (1290 Ala Moana Blvd, where Nauru Tower now sits); so it went from owner Western Telestations to Tak Communications.

    KHON-2 (NBC) was located right behind KITV on Auahi Street. Both had their red & white TV transmitter towers on-site, so you could look into the sky and see two large TV towers very near each other. When I pitched a TV series to KHON (I was only 17 years old), the receptionist took me to a bar between the two stations (yes, I shouldn't have been in that bar as the legal age was 18).

    She said, "We call this bar 'Channel 3' because it sits in between Channels 2 and 4. Look over there — you see that Japanese guy in that booth — he was just fired today by GM Dick Schaller." I replied, "Oh, he got fired by Mr. Schaller because of what I read in the paper: 'KHON caught with its pants down.' He's the Program Director." She would sadly reply, "FORMER P.D." (His sin: He bought and aired a movie without checking it ... there was frontal nudity. The movie aired late at night, but still, it could've cost KHON its license, as broadcasters are held to much higher rules because they are using the free, public airwaves).

    People who know Richard Schaller all love him (he aired my TV series when he moved to KIKU-13 (Independent at the time; now KHNL and formerly branded by its Oceanic Cable channel, "Hawaii News 8"). Dick Schaller replaced most of its all-Japanese language TV shows when he rebranded it "Entertaining 13— Hawaii?s Lucky Number." When he reduced the Japanese programs my mother would watch nightly, about 350 letters arrived at the station — the older generation that immigrated to the islands had nowhere to go. KIKU was a very scrappy, hand-to-mouth operation. Its management never had enough money — they were the last station in Hawaii to go from black-and-white to color broadcasting. Their hallways had holes in the wall and patched, wood paneling. They couldn?t afford a $75,000~$120,000 "Chyron" character generator to do titles, so the engineer found a genius workaround by using a typewriter that had a motor with a plunger tied above its keyboard. That plunger had a foot pedal. The station?s secretary would type out all the english subtitles on a scroll of continuous paper. That scroll would be loaded into the typewriter, which had a (relatively) cheap camera pointed at where the paper would roll up. As the Japanese TV show played, a bi-lingual person would watch and step on the foot pedal, which made the motor plunger protrude out and press the typewriter?s ?RETURN? key, scrolling the paper up, exposing the 2 lines of text which would be put onto the screen. The eventual phase out of this programming in the early 1980s led to Channel 13?s rise, and the spawn of NGN: Nippon Golden Network on Oceanic Cable, a pay-tier Japanese station.

    KHON-TV 2 (NBC) was the scrappiest of the Big-3 stations. Their "Thomson CSF Vidifont" character generator was second place to the Chyron leader that KGMB and KITV could afford, and thus KHON couldn?t even put the "2" logo on the screen when typing "Channel 2 News." The "2" was a regular font like the other letters. The national network NBC was constantly in last place, and that means less money from every :30-second TV ad. Their evening news would be on at 9:30pm to avoid competition with KITV and KGMB.

    Out of 5 TV stations, KGMB used to have a 52% market share — unheard of in TV's 1960s~70s days in any of the 210 TV markets — and certainly non-existent today. But, in just a few years in this era, Joe Moore would leave the sportscasting desk of Channel 9's news - led by 'Hawaii's Walter Cronkite' Bob Sevey — and head over to last-place KHON-2 to anchor.

    Could a sportscaster LEAD the news? The rest is TV history in Hawaii.


    KITV was caught right in the middle of this change.

    Once Joe Moore's numbers took off, KGMB's news would continuously slide. Used to being the leader in many regards, KGMB would start to knee-jerk and tinker: Move the news earlier; then expand it to an hour; re-hash national news in a second half-hour; move the news back to where it was, but keep it an hour long; lose the hour and go back to 30 minutes.

    They even had what would be today in the #MeToo era a sexist series of promos: Sexy women would speak in an X-rated, come-hither tone, looking into the camera: 'I just love the way Bob Jones reports the news... I get all excited at his voice ... the BIG stories ...' I think some of those women were licking their lips or putting their fingers to their mouth. It was funny, but still ... for news?

    It was another sad day for storied Channel 9 when Jones would start to raffle off prizes like a free TV set DURING the actual newscast— KGMB was getting desperate. Before you move to Hollywood to start over as an assistant grabbing coffee in the most competitive town of cut-throat sharks of film, tv, music and media, career consultants will warn you that there are two cardinal sins to kill your career: Don't be BORING and don't be or appear DESPERATE. KGMB was violating that.

    Channel 9 would move the anchor desk to shopping malls and have people anchor from there — Bob Jones would be in Kaneohe talking about getting a Cinnabon. Shoppers would comment to the newspapers, "Wow, they get paid a lot and they don't do much just sitting there, reading." Still, THIS was KGMB-9 and you respected them — so storied, loved and woven into Hawai'i culture.

    I did enjoy Bob's humor when he would banter with Linda Coble and Jim Leahey while signing off the news. One night, touching Linda Coble's front, drapery-style dress, he said, 'Want our viewers to know to not adjust your TV set (touches the dress near Coble's breasts) — this is not a case of fallen anchors — it's just the dress design.' Cue Jim Leahey putting his head into his palm, shaking in disbelief. Linda: 'Keep your hands off my drapes.' If he did that today, Bob would be hauled off to H.R.

    When I briefly worked at the beginnings of Hawaii's last VHF station to go on-air, KFVE-Channel 5 (Independent), Linda Coble was doing a project and I got to finally meet her in person. "I grew up watching you... all of you on Channel 9 are amazing. Cec Heftel is amazing. I had lunch with him and his son awhile back, trying to start a 24-hour music video network from Hawaii. Don Ho is supportive of this and came to my house to see the demo — said I was a genius." (MTV would not yet be born, and I was the first VJ and doing music videos since 1978 in high school and nightclubs).

    Linda said with a huge smile after exhaling from her cigarette, "That is so nice. What are you doing here at KFVE?" I said, "I'm in Master Control." She shocked me with a retort: "Oh, I thought you said you were master-bating."

    I remember only now that I didn't laug, because, well, only if you knew Linda in person you'd know that was her humor— but I looked-up to her as a respected journalist and the retort just caught me off guard. Plus, I grew-up with strict parents and am old-school with standing when a lady enters the room, etc etc. So to hear her blurt that out to a stranger in a professional environment left me without words.

    This does explain Bob Jones' frank banter with her on-the-air, LOL. (Master Control is the final switching that puts everything you see on-the-air; those technicians put the commercials in, count-down to live studios like News (or in NBC's case, going from putting the News Studio on-air in one building, to Saturday Night Live's studio in a different location). If Master Control doesn't punch it up, you don't see it at home. They make sure things stay on-time.

    National master control can be 1,000x the stress, especially during big events like the Super Bowl. If something goes wrong, millions of dollars are on the line and millions of people are watching your goof. I'll comment on another thread about the day poor Leslie Wilcox on Channel 9?s news had to field angry callers all day when KGMB was caught delaying the Super Bowl to insert more local commercials — they wouldn't have been caught, until a power outage happened, sending viewers to radio to hear the game. When the power came back up and viewers returned to KGMB, they found the game was back at a previous point of play and not LIVE as they were listening on the radio.

    Leslie gracefully opened that newscast: "We are sorry." KGMB had to explain "Inst-Delay" technology. This goes back to me inserting more commercials in old TV shows, huh.


    Continued in Part 3


    • #3
      PART 3 of 5

      NBC as a national network was the butt of jokes (see Fred Silverman: "Loud as as Peacock" on YouTube). Johnny Carson would tease his own network about being in last place — always. In those days, though, if you were a Big-3 broadcaster you didn't care... you were minting money — you weren't scrappy like KIKU-13. The Big-3 had 90% of the TV audience, so even last place NBC was in the black and making millions. Silverman, a genius and the only network president to work all 3 networks, had made CBS then ABC number one. So going to NBC was a sure-thing, right?

      To those under age 40 who grew up with an Internet all their lives (and social media): Consider the influence. If 90% of the country is watching the Big-3, it influenced our culture every single moment. It was HUGE if Channel 2 put you doing ?shaka" at the end of their newscast?? your phone would go off the hook with your friends and family saying, ?I just saw you on TV!" — even when Channel 2 was in last place.

      The #1 show one year was "Charlie's Angels." ABC aired so many Aaron Spelling shows that it was jokingly called "Aaron's Broadcasting Company" instead of American Broadcasting. The 3 stars on Charlie's Angels: They made $5,000 per episode. I remember reading as a kid that the Governor of Hawaii made $60,000 a year — took out my calculator — that was $5,000 a month... yes, to a kid in the 70s, that was like "Wow!" In this era, if your show did anything less than double-digits Nielsen ratings on TV, you were cancelled. Charlie's Angels would average a 27 or more: 27% of the country was watching ABC (ditto KITV!)

      It would further have a 40 share (of all the TV sets that were on at that hour, 40% was watching your show, while smaller slices of the pie were watching something else). Today's fragmented, long-tail media: Law & Order SVU is renewed with a 0.9 rating — that's right, not even 1%. Its star demands $2 million per episode. (Broadcasting is still prized because everything else is getting 0.2; and DVR ratings are added after 3, 7 and 30 days; and at present, there is no better way to reach a mass of audience in one sitting, compared to a gradual build-up over months/years on YouTube, hence called ?The Long Tail" by Wired Magazine).

      The angry and always-screaming Silverman — who recently passed away — failed at NBC and was on his way out. A young, nice guy named Brandon Tartikoff was about to turn the Titanic around. NBC would become #1, and the Channel 2 News with Joe Moore was the perfect rainbow for KHON — and the perfect storm for KGMB and KITV. Hill Street Blues, Cheers, The Cosby Show all contributed to the the Eye and the Alphabet's slide.

      Hawai'i was changing for a new decade. Governor George Ariyoshi was on his way out. So was Mayor Frank Fasi.

      The home VCR (Betamax invented in 1975 and competing VHS in 1976) would still not be in a majority of homes by 1980: The $750~$1200 price tag (like spending $5,000 today) was still high. Subscribing to HBO: Home Box Office on Oceanic Cable cost you $19 on top of a $15 basic cable bill, up from it's original $12.00 price tag. In the 1970s, it was HBO that enticed people to subscribe to Oceanic Cable — most parts of the island could receive TV's Big-3 (and even scrappy Channel 13) just fine — though my grandparents in Kailua had to move the antenna around on the roof to get a 'snowy' less-than-optimum picture. I spent my teens editing for HBO, but that's another story.

      The wireless remote control was not common — and if you had cable, you had to have a cable box with a long cable to change channels from the sofa. Even a remote control to a Sony VCR had a long wire attached to it, thus, channel surfing was not a thing as you were lazy to get up and stand at the TV while flipping stations. I should note that in the top TV markets on the mainland, Nielsen boxes that tracked viewership for ratings (and thus determining ad rates, and which TV shows stayed on the air) needed a viewer to stay on a channel for 6 continuous minutes in a half hour in order for that show to get credit as viewed. This explains MTV: Music Television (whom I beat by 3 years doing music videos) stopping the airing of 3-4 minute music clips except for at 3am ?? they couldn't get ratings to prove to Madison Avenue that they had eye-balls, even though they knew millions of young people watched?? they had to change to long-form programming to glue the viewer for 6 minutes. MTV's ad rates NATIONALLY were only $300 per :30 spot.


      Hawaii loved Joe Moore. He had personality and was authentic. He was the local Aiea boy done good! When I first met him getting dressed for his broadcast at KHON-2, he brought-up Aiea High, and after his show, sat with me in reception to hear my pitch, and tried to help me, God bless him. So many Hawai'i people try to help younger newcomers — Don Ho (and assistant Haumea) went out of their way for me. This is so rare here in Hollywood, where it is very cut-throat. If I had grown into a shark in a small pond in Honolulu, moving to Hollywood made me a tadpole in an ocean of killer whales and sharks. There are a lot of good people in Hollywood who are not selfish, and when you find them, you treat them like gold and take care of them as they age or retire!

      When KHON's first ratings book came in as #1, people asked if the sudden news rise a fluke? Would it last? What would #1 KGMB do?

      At KITV-4, Don Rockwell was News Director and lead anchor, but he would later step aside after a few years.

      KITV would have an embarrassing TV reporter strike in the late 1970s. This was when they built Emme Tomimbang as a star — she was the only one allowed on the Charlie's Angels set when they filmed in Hawaii... she was the new Linda Coble TV sweetheart. People loved running into her in-person. She did a great story ?package" when KITV turned 25 years old, reflecting on the station's beginnings as KHVH-TV.

      Unlike the TV technician IBEW strike which left management running all the complicated broadcast gear at the Big-3 Hawaii stations (this was REALLY funny to watch as things went wrong*), this sudden reporter strike only affected KITV, and not KGMB or KHON. Why? Because people like Emme were making about $5.50/hour under GM Dick Grimm. In fact, KITV took out a full-page ad in the two daily newspapers (Star Bulletin/Honolulu Advertiser) and posted everyone's hourly wage! I think that weakened management's argument — people were commenting, "I thought TV people made good money and my son wait's tables and makes more than that in tips!" The minimum wage was around $2.30 at the time. A Big Mac was under $1.00; coffee was 10 cents.

      * Star Bulletin political cartoonist CORKY had a great drawing: A couple is on the sofa watching TV, but the picture is upside down. 'Gee honey, I don't notice any difference since the TV technicians went on strike.' The poor sales and management teams of the Big-3 had to run very complicated equipment and there was no Master Control automation like there is today — everything was manual. Stations constantly had "Please Stand-by" slides with nothing happening for long stretches of priceless air time (they couldn't even manage getting "Classical Gas" music to play along with that slide graphic!)

      Being news, KITV had to cover its OWN REPORTERS picketing outside!!! Drama. There were no reporters (yet) to cover their shifts, and the station could risk FCC complaints challenging their license by cancelling the news, in not serving the public interest. Everything was stuck on JACK HAWKINS on the anchor desk, reading story-after-story. The cameramen (all men at the time) didn't want to cross the reporters outside. Worse: KITV's competitors started to show up: KGMB and KHON reporters (like Candy Fleece, wife of KGMB producer Larry Fleece) would jin the picket line in support of KITV's journalists. The technicians were eventually forced to cross the line or risk losing their jobs, and their colleagues on strike did understand — after all, reporters had to cross the technicians' strike line when they were out, right?

      There was Jack Hawkins, microphone in hand on a story "package," chasing down reporter Kathy Collins to ask her a question... the picture was all out of white-balance (a purple tint) and over-exposed — maybe it was not a union camera operator.

      Kathy turned around to face Jack: "We don't talk to un-professionals."

      Cut to Jack on the anchor desk: 'Well, this un-professional will continue to try and report on the strike.' — all in his Ted Knight/Ted Baxter tone. KITV would soon bring in 'scab' reporters from out of state. No experienced reporter would dare cross that picket line, so you can just imagine how this group of 5 "journalists" looked and sounded gathering the news — it was a fiasco and tarnished the Fifth Estate and what it meant to be a professional broadcaster, but it was Dick Grimm's chess play. When Dick Grimm would years later move to KGMB-9, morale went down the toilet even before he stepped through the door and the ?Grimm Reaper" jokes circulated.


      End of Part 3 of 5


      • #4
        PART 4 of 5

        I ran into KITV-4 reporter Kathy Collins one day at KIKI-AM 83 radio, where she was meeting with another island legend, Kamasami Kong (Robert 'Bob' Zix, who was on my TV series and is now famous in Japan). Kathy said that Jack felt so excluded so he kept putting heavy orange make-up on his face to give the impression he was on the beach every day. It made him look worse and added to the 'buffoon' persona. He loved to go into public places like restaurants and being recognized: his chest puffed up and he would stand tall.

        Grimm would comment during the reporters' strike to people inside KITV: 'hey won't leave — their egos are too big!' Emme was a loyal person with integrity — KITV made her into a star, and Dick was right, it would be hard for her to leave — but that was not due to any ego. Emme never forgot her humble roots.

        A rising Paula Akana, Tina Shelton and a new, friendly face Paul Udell would move into place at KITV in the late 1980s. The 90s were coming. My generation would be hitting our late 20's/early 30's. (R)eagan was on his way out.

        Back at Channel 2, with Joe Moore's unbeatable perch in tandem with the Peacock network's hits like "E.R.," KHON could charge $950.00 per 30-second spot and carry those rates into Joe's 10pm newscast. The other stations were getting $350~475 per spot in their news.

        TV is measured by the number of TV sets a signal potentially reaches, there presently being 210 markets in the USA. A signal does not know man-made landmarks or borders — it goes as far as it can and then fades out, so market rankings are based on that potential reach and number of TV households with a TV set.

        The Top 25~30 markets are prized — more eyeballs means more cash per commercial.

        While Honolulu is in the top-30 of metropolitan cities, its TV market back then was in the 73~78th place out of 210... not even in the Top 50 (Hawaii is now #66 out of 210).

        Before the Internet grabbed a younger generation to getting its news from computers and phones, local news was a huge moneymaker for stations. For KITV's Rob Fukuzaki — who started on Hawaii FM radio doing "Love Songs on the Krater (KRTR-FM) at 1am — then did part-time on KITV's sports desk — being discovered by a vacationing KABC-7 (LA) producer and recruited meant pay dirt. I mean, Los Angeles' KCBS-2 women co-anchors (and in last place), only doing the 11pm news and not even in the newsroom for most of the day/evening would snag $4 million/year — because you were in market #2 of 210. And even though L.A. is #2 to New York's first-place, LA is the Entertainment Capital of the World. That means all the powerful A-listers, stars, directors, writers, producers and studio heads are watching the local news.

        While a local station really depends on its national network doing well, Joe Moore and his loyal viewers have bucked that trend, validating the big paydays they grant to him. It was a sad day when new owners of KHON would voluntarily abandon their NBC agreement and move over to a new, Barry Diller-led Fox Broadcasting Company. Diller had started FBC for Rupert Murdoch, but also owned a station group that was acquiring KHON, so it was natural that he force Channel 2 to abandon NBC and move to being a Fox affiliate.

        Joe Moore famously did not hold in his anger and disappointment: Almost every night, he'd take a swipe at the station's decision: "Just think folks, instead of your Channel 2 News following quality programs like "E.R.," you will soon get to see me right after "COPS!" (LOL! Oh my God, my mouth wide open from shock: Can you imagine an employee saying that about his boss — to the public? Good for you, Joe — my fellow Aiea Ali'i !)

        KIKU-13, rebranded KHNL-13 Hawaii's Very Own by a new GM who formerly led sales at KGMB, would take Dick Schaller's foundation of changing Channel 13 and spend the money to license UH sports — a bold, expensive but smart move.

        KITV had to do something about their slide in the mid 80s. To Channel 4's credit, unlike KGMB, they didn't panic and weren't desperate to make sudden changes, then walk-back those changes in shame. However, they would try gimmicks in the early 80s (Robert Kekaula was forced to hype "Big Board Sports," which was just a fake screen behind him like the weather map). "Big Board Sports brings the plays closer to you!" My father laughed, "What bullshit!" I pointed out to my pops that the screen is really SMALLER, not bigger, because the picture was "squeezed-back" to a small frame BEHIND Kekaula, who stood in front of it, and thus not full-size of your TV set at home. If you had a 42-inch TV set, "Big Board Sports" was now only 20-inches of that 42, in scale. LOL.

        Dick Schaller would cycle back from Independent KIKU-13, and eventually take the reins of KITV-4. This was when Sharie Shima bowed on KITV circa 1991/92. Dick and I were meeting in 1993 and he had noted that viewers were making fun of Sharie dropping her remote control that changed the weather graphics behind her, and then stopping her broadcast to pick it up. "What else is she gonna do, Keoni? She had to pick it up."

        When KHON abandoned NBC and became a Fox station, KHNL-13 quickly grabbed the Peacock's feathers, which gave them less available air time as they had to air NBC shows, so UH sports moved to KFVE-5 and became 'he Home Team.'

        Corporations own local stations today (sad!). Gone are the days of local broadcasters like Cec Heftel who LOVED the business and his local community. As someone in the Industry, I feel strongly that it is a proud privilege of flicking a switch and becoming a broadcaster to serve the public. I still hold those values that were pressed upon me by Hawaii's storied broadcasters. De-(R)egulation — started in the (R)eagan era (error) — really dismantled things in a bad way. The former "ownership caps" like 7-7-7 (one owner can't own more than 7 AM, 7 FM and 7 TV stations, with no two in the same market, and without owning a major daily newspaper in that market) really allowed people like Cec Heftel to flourish and create KGMB as the community's station — if the Big-4 networks can't own every local station, they need Cec Heftel types to own and become "affiliates." KITV not airing ABC programing for Merrie Monarch is what a station should be doing, even though ABC has to refund money it accepted for national ads in the Hawai'i market to air in primetime. If ABC could own KITV, they would put the hula dance competition on at 2am (if they even spent money to cover it).

        Regulations didn't only help locals like Cec Heftel?? they help small people like me and people in the middle to grow bigger: Rules like PTAR (Prime Time Access Rule) and FIN-SYN (Financial/Syndication) helped people like Merv Griffin and Roger King (King World Productions) be independent and have a shot at success, forcing local stations to open up evening air time to people other than their own network parents. There would be no Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, or Oprah Winfrey without these non-network producers.

        To me, KITV hit an era of prestige upgrade in news when Paul Udell, and Tina Shelton came on in the late 80s (Tina used to edit for Oceanic/HBO after U.H. schooling, before she got her news break. She told me, "If you do anything with news, Keoni, I am really about THAT." I pitched a 60 Minutes-type magazine "It's Your Kuleana, Hawaii!" and wanted Tina to co-host it. KHON liked it, but going head-on into controversy would ire some sponsors if I had to criticize those companies, and Hawaii was not a Top-25 market that could risk stepping on toes). KITV's stories were less hype and sincere, from the heart and reached new highs — it had gotten to a point of polish, and its tone was suddenly different. The new owners that took over after Tak sold had invested heavily to get there. And I'm talking about the entire team, including the technical graphics an presentation — everything excelled. Remember what I said earlier about "look and feel" of a station. KITV got Udell from his previous run at KHON. This late 80s, esteemed change at Channel 4 should have been KGMB's response to KHON's Joe Moore rise 8 years earlier.

        Going back before Udell, KITV had given Jack Hawkins a long time to steady the ship, but no matter how hard he tried, he would never be one of us in Hawaii. KITV was about to quietly bring in someone considered local (taking from KGMB's glamor days; only us in media knew it was Tim Tindall — the public was left guessing).


        End of Part 4 of 5


        • #5
          PART 5 of 5

          So now, finally, you've been patient and read this far — If you're not in the business I am privileged to be in, you have a good idea of the environment of that time. Here is what I add to Burl's well-remembered comment about Jack Hawkin's final broadcast. First, Burl's quote:

          "(Jack Hawkins) was shown the door, I imagine for demographic reasons, and instead of a cheerful farewell, he launched into an intensely bitter and sputtering tirade that was painful to see. And hysterical. I think he did some car ads after that and vanished from Hawaii."

          So, here is my exact memory:

          Jack Hawkins would look into the camera, saying: 'Starting next week, there will be someone else in this seat giving you the news. It has been great to know you and I've enjoyed my time here, but management feels that there needs to be someone "more local" — and well — you and I know that is just POPPYCOCK!'

          Someone tell Jack that NO ONE uses the expression Poppycock in Hawaii. He just Ted Knight-buffoon-ed himself (again) on his swan song broadcast, and underscored KITV's decision.

          As Lynne Waters looked down at her script, speechless, the picture dissolved to the wide-angle camera, the end music faded-up, the KITV copyright appeared on the bottom of the screen, and a floor director would walk up to the anchor desk and hand good ol' Jack a bottle of wine or champagne.

          By chance, I would edit a project with Lynne 6 years later. I brought-up that last broadcast and Jack's use of "Poppycock." Lynne had nothing to say in response, which is just like Lynne: a class act.

          I believe Jack Hawkins eventually filed a breach of contract lawsuit against KITV. I'd be surprised if he won or got any settlement.

          Hope I did you proud, Burl... Rest in Peace, Sir.

          P.S. I am sure Bob Jones is gonna comment about all of this one day. I never met him in-person. I admire the guy — he should be back on mainstream TV news, ending with his often-controversial commentaries (which lean conservative, I think).

          I have a lot to say about his recent comment on Academy Award® nominations last month — while in general, we all agree with him, he misses the point, big time. I will save this for another post.

          Unrelated Sidebar: AMPAS moved the Oscars® earlier by 2 weeks, giving the TV team much less time to work on over 500 clips needed for all nominees announced in January. If you were alert watching the show this month, you may have noted how things were a lot simpler (less change of sets on stage; simpler clip packages). This experiment for 2 years was done to curb "campaigning" by nominees to Academy voters, which can get your nomination yanked, as a sound nominee learned the hard way 24 hours before Oscar-night. This has now been cancelled for 2021 - the Oscars® returns to its regular 'last Sunday of February' perch — and in 2022 moves a week later into March due to the Winter Olympics.

          KITV has a lot of firsts:

          - First local news to switch from 16mm film to Sony 3/4-inch U-Matic videotape (ENG: Electronic News Gathering). KGMB would follow (with Bob Sevey explaining that some viewers won't notice, but the picture will be clearer and more immediate as film didn't have to be developed). KHON was last to do so. Watch Jane Fonda as a reporter and Michael Douglas as her cameraman in ?The China Syndrome.? That's how they did the news.

          - First station of the Big-3 to move their transmitter and antenna off their studio lot and onto a tall building. KHON would follow, so there were no more sights of 2 tall, near each other red and white TV towers in the sky where Nauru Tower sits today.

          - After I left Hawaii, I heard KITV made huge promos (no, not "JACK HAWKINS is coming back!" - LOL) — KITV was the first in the nation to go turn on digital broadcasting. This didn't mean stations HAD to broadcast in High Definition (1,080 or 720 vertical lines); it just meant the signal was digital. In fact, KITV, to save money, initially had their news in wide-screen ED: Enhanced or Extended Definition, which is tech speak for "Widescreen Standard Definition? (480 lines).

          - The theme music for "Newscenter 4" with Don Rockwell and Janet Zappala was taken from Tom Scott & The LA Express: "Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America & All The Ships at Sea" (1974)

          Keoni (Hiroshi) Tyler
          Film & Television Director-Writer-Editor
          Hollywood, CA

          The World's First Music Video VJ (1978) — The only in the world to smooth-mix videos back-to-back — years before MTV's launch in August of 1981.
          Returning to the stage in 2020 with @VideoSuperMix #VSM

          Keoni Tyler's last project was preparing the new studios for NBCUniversal's syndicated yakker, "The Kelly Clarkson Show" on Stage 1 on the Universal lot.
          He has several projects he is trying to move through the maze of film/TV development, and left his hometown of Hawaii for Hollywood in 1996.
          He has produced and edited for the Academy Awards® and the Primetime Emmys®.

          Twitter: @KeoniTylerPub or @KeoniFilmTV
          Instagram: @KeoniTyler


          • #6
            Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK

            One More KITV "First:"

            - KITV News is probably the first to show a person urinating (for a long time)… During a huge storm or hurricane and power outage which brought unusual flooding into Ala Moana Park, Channel 4 managed to get a camera on their roof shooting out towards Ala Moana beach, where much water had come inland. When the power came up, Tina Shelton was live on the anchor desk and narrating the weather. Suddenly, a young man walked into the frame, pulled down his zipper, and started to urinate – and you could clearly see him “stream.” What was surprising was the director or producer in the PCR (Production Control Room) not paying attention, and letting that, uh, play out. LOL. I wonder if that KHON Program Director fired for airing a movie with frontal nudity got a laugh from that?


            • #7
              Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK

              Keoni.... Thank you for posting the long, insider history of local TV. Fascinating stuff. Hopefully you write a book about local TV yourself reflecting on all of your memories.

              Suddenly, a young man walked into the frame, pulled down his zipper, and started to urinate – and you could clearly see him “stream.” What was surprising was the director or producer in the PCR
              So, this was probably the first "streaming" video from Hawaii? Heh.

              Do you remember KDSC TV on Channel 14 back in the 1980s I think. They were for a short time an all music video channel until it was bought out by LeSea network and became KWHE which is what it is til today.
              I'm still here. Are you?


              • #8
                Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK

                Originally posted by mel View Post
                Keoni.... Thank you for posting the long, insider history of local TV. Fascinating stuff. Hopefully you write a book about local TV yourself reflecting on all of your memories.

                So, this was probably the first "streaming" video from Hawaii? Heh.

                Do you remember KDSC TV on Channel 14 back in the 1980s I think. They were for a short time an all music video channel until it was bought out by LeSea network and became KWHE which is what it is til today.
                Hello Mel!
                Thank you for your generous words, and your time in reading my history. I agree with you – I think it was a fascinating time of broadcasting and I wanted future generations to be able to look ("and feel") the era. With the Internet and anyone being able to "broadcast," I feel a lot of the "magic" is lost on those born from the 1990> – I hope my thread gets a lot of views, and people like you write to me.

                As for KDSC "Discovery Music Channel," – oh yes, do I remember them. I gave KIKI-AM 83 morning DJ Ron Wiley his big TV start on my music video show. When I left the genre of music videos to work on my film and tv mainstream career, Ron would pop-up as one of the "VJs" on Discovery Music. I watched them - it was more shoddy and scrappy than KIKU-13's Japanese language days.

                I remember them coming out of commercial and you could hear Ron, but not see anything. "Oops, let me turn on the lights." He was put at a desk in a small office – that was the "set." I later was told they didn't even have a tripod - the cheap camera producing the very fuzzy picture was taped on top of a garbage can.

                On another day, they started a video (The Honeymooners: Sea of Love [Es Paranza/Atlantic Records (WEA: Warner-Elektra-Atlantic)]) – and THEY LEFT FOR LUNCH! No one at the stations was watching the station!

                They would leave a Sony 3/4-inch VTR on "loop playback!" A 3/4-inch tape has a 60-minute capacity, so did they think it would be okay to leave a broadcast station unattended in "Master Control?" Further, it takes 3-4 minutes to rewind the tape when it reaches the end. Viewers would sit in black while that happened. Here's the kicker: They didn't set an "END" to the loop, they just pressed "Play" and flipped the toggle switch on the Sony machine to activate LOOP MODE. If you don't set the end, the machine will play 15 seconds, abort, rewind, play from the beginning; REPEAT. Thus, for about 2.5 hours (I waited because I wanted to see what these buffoons would do), you'd watch in repeat the first few seconds of "Sea of Love" and it would stop and rewind while you waited in BLACK.

                After MTV beat me to getting on air 24/7 in August of 1981, people may recall that they were accused of being racist: They didn't play Earth, Wind & Fire (ARC/Columbia-CBS), Rick James (Superfreak was a hit; Gordy/Motown), and many other Black artists. A young Bob Pittman, chosen from FM radio by Warner Communications chair Steven Ross to lead MTV programming made a valid point: MTV was not racist – their chosen format was AOR (Album or Adult Oriented Rock). That means the Rolling Stones and "Start Me Up" is a go. Earth, Wind & Fire "Let's Groove" was not. (MTV was a joint venture of Warner and American Express under WASEC: Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company. They would launch 3 networks: MTV, Nickelodeon and The Movie Channel, to compete with HBO and Showtime. WASEC would later dissolve into MTV NETWORKS INC. when they bought-out American Express. Years later, Warner would abandon these channels and sell to Viacom, which is the present owner today).

                Tina Turner would mount a comeback (Capitol/EMI-America) with "What's Love Got To Do With It?", and she did get airplay – her music was AOR.

                Many will remember that rockers were revolting against the disco era: "Disco Sucks" became a rallying cry. There was a gathering at a stadium where everyone had to bring a disco record to get in, and they bulldozed over it or lit those records on fire.

                Things came to a head when Michael Jackson's album (Epic/CBS) was released. "Billie Jean" was a huge hit. It wasn't pure rock – but it wasn't pure "disco" either. Michael Jackson was in demand, so MTV would have to find a way to make an excuse to air it... they did not reverse decision on other R&B, though. From that same "Thriller" album, Billie Jean was followed by "Beat It." It had a rock guitar riff by Eddie Van Halen. Okay, that passes. Then, Jackson would spend $1m of his own money to make the short film, "Thriller." MTV gave it a lot of airplay.


                Discovery couldn't take off nationally because they were underfunded. But Ted Turner (WTBS-17 SuperStation and CNN founder) had cash, though CNN was bleeding a ton of it. Turner would start CABLE MUSIC CHANNEL from Los Angeles. About a month later, their offices were found empty. MTV made an offer to Turner: We will give you $1m to shut down and you will never open a music video channel again (or for 20 years?) They took all the cable operators who gave CMC channel clearance and held those operators to keep the channel clear. On January 1, 1985, MTV launched VH-1: Video Hits One.

                After MTV chose to go AOR, I along with Don Ho's help tried to get investors to pool $50m to launch the Pop Music Channel. We only got about $5m raised. Today, starting a national cable/DBS network takes about $300m, and you will certainly lose money for about 7-10 years. By 1990, cable had matured.

                Take Care, Mel!
                Last edited by KeoniHiroshiTyler; February 24, 2020, 03:44 PM.


                • #9
                  Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK


                  Former KITV-4 weekend sports anchor ROB FUKUZAKI – who was discovered by a visiting producer from LA and recruited for ABC Network O&O (Owned & Operated station) KABC-7, wrote me today, saying that he never worked at KRATER KRTR-FM. He did his late night radio show on KXPM, which later became KSSK-FM, and was on the 7pm~12mid shift.


                  • #10
                    Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK

                    Wow! Familiar names I haven't heard in quite awhile, lol! Aha, things I did not know about Rob and some history, thanks.


                    • #11
                      Re: Hawai'i TV: 1970s, 80s, 90s – Joe Moore, Emme Tomimbang, Bob Sevey, and JACK HAWK

                      Originally posted by Troubleshooter View Post
                      Wow! Familiar names I haven't heard in quite awhile, lol! Aha, things I did not know about Rob and some history, thanks.

                      Thanks for reading it!