New news shows unveil tomorrow


POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2009

The smiling, hopeful faces of 25 on-air newsroom personnel pictured here are the survivors of a difficult era for three Honolulu television stations.

Those pictured have employment with Alabama-based Raycom Media Inc., which has done its best to keep an iron grip on any information about the stations' combining of news and other operations since its shared services agreement with the Virginia-based private equity firm that owns KGMB was announced Aug. 18.

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing a legal objection filed by Media Council Hawaii and responses by the station owners but has not taken action.

The stations' new newscasts, online presence, branding elements and all that has been under wraps will be revealed tomorrow.

Rick Blangiardi, vice president and general manager of KGMB-TV and KHNL-TV under the agreement, as well as News Director Chris Archer and Marketing Director Candace Hirleman, were enthusiastic about the new lineup and the possibilities the change will bring at a luncheon event last week—but the difficulty of laying off dozens of employees also could be seen on their faces as the downsizing was discussed.

Two of the more high-profile departures were anchors Howard Dashefsky and Diane Ako, who moved into the morning anchor positions for KHNL in April.

        The three stations' current online presence, subject to change, effective tomorrow:
        » Online: kgmb9.com/ main/index.php
        » Facebook: www.facebook.com/KGMB9
        » Twitter: twitter.com/ kgmb9
        » Online: www.khnl.com
        » Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Honolulu-HI/KHNL-News-8/65035758583?v=wall
        » Twitter: twitter.com/ KHNLnews8
        » Online: www.k5thehometeam.com
        Possible new site of combined news operation:
        » hawaiinewsnow.com

Neither Dashefsky nor weather anchor Tracy Gladden, also departing, were on the air Friday morning, so Ako was joined for one final newscast by weather anchor Paul Drewes, who will bid aloha today.

Ako was “;thrilled”; to end her time at KHNL with Drewes, a previous co-anchor.

“;My layoff officially takes effect on Halloween, but we were allowed to leave and asked to turn in company property at the end of our show,”; Ako said.

The last day was sad, but “;I feel relieved that the stress of working in a layoff environment is over.”;

Ako has long freelanced, by writing, hosting corporate videos and consulting, and plans to continue in that vein, but added, “;My main goal was to be a mom anyway.”; Her daughter Olivia is 2 years old, “;and this is a great time. I'm really happy. I'm excited about this,”; Ako said.

Dashefsky looked forward to doing the morning show as a way to spend more time with his daughters.

“;I've got it, don't I?”; he laughed on Friday.

He understands the economics, and “;we always knew, like everybody else, we weren't immune”; to the effects of the downturn.

“;Unfortunately, this is the way it played out.”;

Still, he is upbeat about the future. He does sports play-by-play work for Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has another project under way with another organization, and “;wonderful people have reached out to me”; with other opportunities, he said.

One thing that has not been emphasized, Dashefsky said, is that for those who were laid off, “;none of this has anything to do with and it is not a reflection on our professionalism or quality of our work. This decision was made by whomever chose to determine what the ultimate team would be.”;

Some have already moved on, literally, including KHNL reporter Zahid Arab.

From KGMB, reporter Tina Chau left the islands Sunday, and former “;Sunrise—Early Edition”; anchor Ramsay Wharton is still here but is looking for work elsewhere in a contracting industry.

Many current and now recently former TV news reporters and anchors are active in social media and can be found at Twitter.com or on Facebook.com, as they work to keep their personal brands out there.

Don't bother searching to “;friend”; Dashefsky, however, as he's not into social media. “;I have no intention of getting on it, either. Enough of my life has been played out in front of the public,”; he said.