WILLIAM F. "BILL" BIGELOW / PUBLICIST
Broadcast expertise lasted a lifetime
William F. "Bill" Bigelow, radio and television reporter, actor, author, public speaker and public-relations executive, died Sunday night from complications of cancer. He was 75.
"He worked his whole life in the field of communications," said radio and Internet personality Ron Jacobs. "I think I was the last guy to work with him. He was the marketing director for whodaguyhawaii.com, the Internet radio channel. He kept up with the technology right to the end."
At age 16, Bigelow was already a radio professional, hosting a high-school news program for WJTN in Jamestown, N.Y. After earning a degree in political science and history, Bigelow joined the Navy and was posted to Pearl Harbor as a public affairs officer, beginning the two great passions of his life, the U.S. Navy and Hawaii.
After a stint teaching journalism at a military school -- where his students included future broadcasters and Vietnam veterans Pat Sajak and KHON anchor Joe Moore -- Bigelow returned to Hawaii in 1968 to handle morning news broadcasts for Lucky Luck's KCCN radio show and at KHON-TV as a weekend anchor and political reporter.
In the 1970s, Bigelow worked as public relations director for Sheraton Hotels, opening his own Bigelow Advertising and Public Relations in 1983. He also became an actor, appearing more than a dozen times in "Hawaii Five-O," as well as "Charlie's Angels," "Magnum P.I." and "Jake & the Fatman," as well as stage productions. His last performance was in Moore's play "Prophecy and Honor" last year.
In the '90s, Bigelow spearheaded a revival of the "Hawaii Calls" radio show, bringing aboard Jacobs as producer.
"He was a real broadcaster," said Jacobs. "His years of experience were invaluable, but it was his love for the islands that made the show work. He made it a pleasure to produce Hawaiian music for the airwaves."
Bigelow never really retired, turning to writing and public speaking instead of broadcasting. His first novel, "Red Sky at Night," was well-received, and a second, "38 North," had been completed. He also hosted "Now Hear This," a weekly TV show sponsored by the Navy League of Hawaii, an organization he had served for more than four decades.
He was a primary researcher on "Fit to Fight," a history of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard released this month, the 100th anniversary of the yard's founding.
"Bill Bigelow was a patriot, with a strong sense of what was best for our country and our military," recalled Kerry Gershaneck, public affairs officer for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. "In his last months, he 'adopted' the shipyard, and devoted many hours of his last months to researching the shipyard's history.
"I knew Bill personally for more than 20 years. I will miss his friendship, his sense of humor, and his great ability to weave a great story."
Services are pending.