After a few months away, Leong is coming back to TV
FORMER KHNL news anchor Jodi Leong is returning to TV news -- at KITV, where she worked in the 1990s.
She will be the nighttime reporter Monday through Friday and also serve as a fill-in anchor as needed. Leong's appointment fills the vacancy left in October by Tasha Kobashigawa, who served as night reporter and weekend anchor. Weekend anchor Jill Kuramoto no longer has to do night-time reporting.
"What I'm most excited about is working with my old friends and colleagues," Leong said.
Leong started at KITV in 1991 as an intern and worked her way up to the anchor desk but was offered a primary anchor position at KHNL in 2000.
"I was so happy at KITV for the first nine years and it broke my heart to leave, but I had to take the opportunity -- you have to seize the opportunity when it's there," she said.
Five years of anchoring was enough, she said.
She resigned from KHNL in July to pursue a job that gave her the flexibility to appear in local theater productions. It had long been rumored, even outside the local television industry, that she would resurface on KHON after the noncompete clause in her KHNL contract expires next month.
"The requirements of my noncompete have been satisfied," Leong said, but declined to go into detail.
Often, when the terms of a noncompete are satisfied, either the clause has expired or money has changed hands.
KHON's recent sale, still pending federal approval and closure of the financial transaction, may well have been a complicating factor.
Leong called KHON General Manager Rick Blangiardi a "class act" and Blangiardi didn't hesitate to return the compliment.
"We have a very high regard for Jodi and I'm confident her decision will be a very good one for KITV ... the competition just got better," he said.
When KITV President and General Manager Mike Rosenberg announced that Leong would be returning to the station, "there was a great big round of applause," Rosenberg said.
"She's a really good journalist. She'll be great for us as a night-side live reporter -- she's great at that," he said.
Leong looks forward to "gathering my own information and creating my own stories," starting with an "empty canvas," she said.
As for her plans to pursue theater and cause rejiggering of newsroom staffing, "We value Jodi enough that if something comes up for a month ... we'll try to work it out," Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg invited her to the KITV Christmas party Monday night at Indigo, which she attended "four hours after signing my contract," she giggled.
"I got so many hugs and kisses and well-wishes, I cried. It was such a celebratory night -- a reunion," Leong said.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org