Exodus takes shape at KHON
THREE more leaders at KHON submitted their resignations yesterday. Station controller Carrie Castle, Production Manager Jay Park and Jared Kuroiwa, assistant chief engineer and information technology manager, will all depart KHON before the end of the month. Castle's last day will be Wednesday, while Park and Kuroiwa gave two weeks' notice and will work through Feb. 16.
Four of nine department heads have now resigned from KHON, with no jobs to go to, all citing inability to support new owner Montecito Broadcast Group's plan to fire more than two dozen people to make way for automated live television production equipment and other key operational changes.
"As a leader, a husband and a father of three young children, this is a difficult decision for me to make," wrote Park in a farewell e-mail to staff. "However, there are times you MUST stand for what you believe in."
"I do not believe in, nor can I support the extensive planned people cuts. I will not play a part in the execution of this plan. Additionally, I do not share the same vision and business philosophy as SJL/Montecito Broadcast Group and have decided not to align myself with this company," Park said.
"To me, this is about what is right and wrong. People are the backbone of KHON2. Why sever that?" he told TheBuzz.
Castle submitted her resignation amid, but unrelated to, whispers around the station that the new owners would not make payroll -- which she later put to rest with a staff memo.
Her farewell e-mail, sent earlier in the day, said her work standards have included "questioning the way we do things despite the fact that it has always been done this way," but said the "extensive planned staff reductions" are a move she cannot support."
Kuroiwa also sent a farewell "with a heavy heart" and told the Star-Bulletin: "My belief is that you get the best in every area and the revenue comes from that perfection. In this case, (Montecito) will cut the legs out from under a wonderful group of loving people ... just to cut expenses to increase revenue."
Department heads were told yesterday by the station's new president and general manager, Joe MacNamara, that there is no longer a number of people to be fired, according to a source who asked not to be identified. Each department head was given a dollar figure and was instructed to list the people to be fired, whose salaries will meet the goal.
MacNamara did not return calls nor reply to an e-mail.
KHON anchor Joe Moore, Hawaii's top-rated TV newsman, reported the resignations as a story, without commentary, about halfway through the 6 o'clock news last night. He has previously held such announcements until the end of the newscast and added personal commentary.
Before going on the air, Moore told TheBuzz, "It's clear to almost everyone at this TV station that our new owners are destroying KHON."
"The people who remain after the butchering of our staff will be spread so thin, we will not be able to deliver to the viewers who depend on us the quality they expect and deserve."
Montecito officials have said their business model has increased ratings and revenue in each of the markets where it has operated TV stations.
"This downsizing plan is about maximizing super profits for owners not content with adequate profits," Moore said.
"It's a sad commentary on the so-called 'new breed' of broadcast companies, and why they are in the business."
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