Erika Engle

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Ward Warehouse, pictured above around the time it opened in the mid-1970s, is getting a color makeover, teal and cream, to match the rest of Victoria Ward Centers. The remake is part of a celebration of Ward Warehouse's 30th anniversary.

Takayama, Heckathorn,
Slash are moving on

THE local news and broadcast industry is facing three major recent departures, including KHON-TV reporter Gregg Takayama, Honolulu Magazine Editor John Heckathorn and longtime KPOI-FM rock jock Fil Slash.

Takayama will move to the other side of the microphone and camera next month as director of public relations for the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine. His last day at KHON will be July 29.

"It is not enough to say that Gregg is an exemplar of news professionalism, but the depth and breadth of his reporting has provided us with a solid competitive advantage throughout his tenure. KHON2 will be greatly challenged to replace him," said Rick Blangiardi, general manager, in a staff memo.

Takayama, a former Star-Bulletin reporter who had been at KHON since 1998, had signed a new three-year contract with the station earlier this year. He said, "I decided to take this job because it's an opportunity to help in a small way to transform our medical school from an outstanding one to one of the best in the nation, if not the world."

Heckathorn resigned his 21-year career at Honolulu Magazine on Friday. Heckathorn said he was told that owner PacificBasin Communications LLC "wanted to change the direction of the magazine and they wanted a new editor to implement that vision, so I wish them well."

Heckathorn does not have another job lined up.

The magazine recently won eight awards from the Hawaii Publishers Association and 10 from the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as a gold award for excellence from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

Heckathorn improved the magazine's content, reader interest and reputation, said company President John Alves. The magazine will soon begin the search for a new editor.

"The magazine is the best it's ever been, both as a business and as an editorial product," Heckathorn said.

"I'm going out with my head held high."

As for what's next, "I'm actively looking at my options," Heckathorn said. "I've always found that leisure is overrated."

In radio and perhaps other industries, if you're called in for a meeting on a holiday, it's probably not for a positive reason. Phil "Fil Slash" Roberts was summoned to such a meeting on Monday, on the Fourth of July, and was told he was fired and would be replaced with a nationally syndicated radio show.

"I was completely blindsided," Slash said. However, he added: "I bear no malice. It's the business that we chose."

"I mean, really that's what it comes down to. Who in this business has not been fired several times -- and I've been lucky enough to only have been fired once in Hawaii."

Slash is to release a book before the end of the year.

"Nights With Alice Cooper" will air from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, according to Ed Kanoi, operations manager, program director and morning show co-host for KPOI.

Happy 30th anniversary

The new paint job at Ward Warehouse isn't just for show, but was done to prepare for the center's 30th anniversary being celebrated this weekend.

Several tenants have been around for decades.

Ming Koshi is a second-generation Ward Warehouse merchant and co-owner of the Liquor Collection, which was founded 28 years ago as Mike's Wines by her stepfather and mother, Mike and Josephine Vourlas.

She took over in 1982 or 1983 and renamed the store "to target the market a little bit," because it sold more than wine, she said.

"We started with beers around the world," selling 20 different kinds, whereas "today we have 175 to 200 kinds of beers."

After doing well in the 1980s, "the first Gulf War pretty much cut off Japanese tourists and we had to revamp our marketing to locals and stop catering to tourists," Koshi said.

Another store, T-shirt retailer Novel-T World, has been around for more than 22 years, according to co-owner Stephanie Ching.

She and her husband, Darrell, joined Novel-T World founder Jay Tyson and in 1988 the partnership ended because of different interests. The Chings survived Hawaii's economic cycles by saving up for rainy days.

Americans' habit of wearing their hearts on their T-shirts keeps local and visitors coming back, often for T-shirts by local designers.

Fears expressed by some merchants during Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc.'s 2002 purchase of Victoria Ward Centers have largely gone unrealized, Ching said.

"Our lease might come mailed from Chicago, but the day-to-day things get handled by the same crew and that's been nice," she said.

The center and its merchants are planning a sale, giveaways and other promotional events starting Friday to mark the anniversary.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

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