COURTESY BILL BIGELOW
Bill Bigelow, right, appeared with Jack Lord in "Hawaii 5-0," playing 19 different roles on various episodes.
Former newsman remains active on speaking circuits
Bill Bigelow has spent a lifetime in the realm of communication. He has been a local news anchor, television and radio reporter, actor in television shows, public speaker, author and has handled public relations for prominent companies.
It all began when Bigelow was 16 and got a job hosting a half-hour program of high school news for WJTN radio in Jamestown, N.Y., his hometown. In 1960 he graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., with a bachelor's degree in political science and history.
Shortly thereafter, Bigelow joined the Navy, and that brought him to Hawaii in 1963 as a Navy public affairs officer for COMSERVPAC (Commander, Service Forces Pacific Ocean). His Navy career took him to London, but he returned to the States in 1966 to teach broadcasting and journalism at Fort Benjamin Harrison for the Defense International School in Indianapolis.
His former students include late tennis star Arthur Ashe and longtime "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak. Another of his journalism students: KHON anchor Joe Moore.
Bigelow returned to Hawaii in 1968 as morning newscaster on Lucky Luck's radio show on KCCN. "Lucky Luck was a most interesting and always happy-go-lucky guy," Bigelow recalled.
But working with him meant learning to deal with distractions from rats to birds. "We had our studio out on Puuhale Road, off Sand Island Road," he said. "It was located in a section of a warehouse with Granny Goose Foods on the other end. When we came to work, we would hear the rats running in the ceiling when the lights came on."
COURTESY BILL BIGELOW
Bigelow at work at KHON.
KCCN also had a studio in the International Marketplace: "You could not hear yourself talking or doing the news when the sun came up and the mynah birds in the tree started chattering."
During this time Bigelow also worked at KHON as a weekend anchor and political reporter with Don Picken, Bob Basso, Bill Baist and Charles Stubblefield. He interviewed celebrities from Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Steve Allen and Zsa Zsa Gabor to Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
"I went on several NASA space man recoveries," he said. "In those days the space capsules came down to Earth in a parachute and were picked up by Navy ships programmed to be in the anticipated landing areas. This was big international news and lots of fun to be flown out to -- and a catapult launched (us) back to Honolulu in Navy jet planes."
Bigelow covered the 1972 Democratic Convention in Miami for KHON and interviewed members of the Miami Dolphins during training camp before their undefeated season of 1972.
After KHON, Bigelow spent more than a decade as an advertising and public relations executive for Sheraton Hotels, eventually opening his own company, Bigelow Advertising and Public Relations, in 1983. His clients included hotels, airlines, golf courses and schools.
He also kept up an acting career, appearing on "Hawaii Five-0" in 19 different roles, "Charlie's Angels," "Magnum P.I.," "Jake & the Fatman" and in theater productions from "The Odd Couple" to Joe Moore's recent stage production, "Prophecy and Honor."
COURTESY DICK MATTI
The former newsman continues to work as an author and public speaker.
In the early '90s Bigelow revived the old "Hawaii Calls" radio show as a narrator and producer. During this revival he hosted such performers as the Makaha Sons and the late Aunty Genoa Keawe on the Hilton Hawaiian Village stage.
Bigelow continues to use his extensive communication skills, speaking on the military, Hawaiian music and motivational topics. He also wrote a spy novel, "Red Sky at Night," and has a second novel coming out this fall, "38 North," about international economic terrorism and set in North Korea.
This month his new book, "Fit to Fight," arrives in bookstores. It's an extensive research effort that marks the 100th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
"It's a fascinating history; more people need to know of its many stories," Bigelow said. "As a former Navy officer I will always love the Navy and be interested in its history and what effect it has had on both our country and Hawaii."
a collector of film and videotape cataloging Hawaii's TV history, has worked as a producer, writer and researcher for both local and national media. His column runs on the first Monday of each month. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org