Wednesday, March 31, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Honolulu broadcaster Kanoa Leahey, left, hosts Las Vegas
broadcaster Scott Robbs during Leahey's Hawaii Pacific
University baseball pregame show at Hans
L'Orange field yesterday.

Like fathers,
like sons in
broadcast booths

Junior Robbs, Leahy
following fathers'

By Rod Ohira


Don Robbs notices the visiting team's broadcast accommodations in the grandstand behind home plate at Hans L'Orange Field.

"Hey, that's not bad," says Robbs, who has done play by play from worse viewpoints during his 23-year career as the radio voice of the University of Hawaii baseball team.

Jim Leahey, KFVE's sports director and Robbs' television counterpart, is standing nearby chatting with former Rainbow Greg Oniate and Hawaii Pacific University coach Allan Sato's wife and mother while polishing off a hamburger.

Turning to Robbs, Leahey points out the home team's broadcaster works from a press box facing first base.

As HPU's final home game of the season against Nevada-Las Vegas began, Hawaii's two most prominent sportscasters sat down to listen.

For they had come to Waipahu last night as dads, not sportscasters.

"It's a very special night," Leahey says, "when you can go to a game and not to work but to listen to the young ones do it."

Scott Robbs, 32, is the baseball voice of Nevada-Las Vegas while 21-year-old Kanoa Leahey broadcasts all of HPU's sports on radio.

Although their fathers have been longtime friends, Scott and Kanoa had never met until last night.

"He's got a great gig, the best of both worlds," Scott said about Kanoa's full scholarship and sportscasting opportunity at HPU.

They accept advice willingly from their fathers, but Scott and Kanoa have worked hard to pave their own path.

Scott Robbs, born in California but raised in Hawaii, left the islands at age 19 and spent four years in the Army.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Robbs, left, and Leahy cut it up in the booth.

"I had no interest in broadcasting and didn't know what I wanted to do," Scott said. "But I knew I wanted to come back to Hawaii."

Scott landed a job with KGU radio shortly after returning home.

"Nothing on air, just technical stuff," Scott said. "But in 1990 or 1991, I got to do a women's volleyball game.

"I fell in love with it the first time I turned on the microphone. I continued doing spot things at KGU, nothing steady, and there was no chance for advancement."

Scott decided to move to Las Vegas, hoping for a sportscasting job.

"I had family there but didn't know anybody in the business, and I ended up bagging groceries for $4.25 an hour my first year there," he said.

Scott caught a break in 1994 when former UH sports information director Dick Fishback took the same job at UNLV and hired him as a public address announcer.

Scott did 25 UNLV baseball games in 1998. The radio schedule was increased to 53 games this year.

"I can't think of anything better in life than to do what I'm doing now," said Scott, who also did radio for Las Vegas' high school football game of the week last fall.

Being the son of a veteran broadcaster isn't a problem, says Scott. "In Hawaii, I'm Don Robbs' son, but in Vegas, it has to be my ability that's going to get me anywhere," he said. "I'd like to stay with college athletics, and maybe someday be the voice of UNLV sports.

"But I'm not experienced enough to do that yet."

Scott has learned much from his father and his own experiences and feels he's 100 times better than he was at this time last year.

"The two things I've learned is to keep rhythm by painting a verbal picture, which my dad is very good at, and to have fun."

Don Robbs, who listens to Scott's games on the Internet, credits his son's perseverance.

"I gave him a little help but he just kept pushing and pushing," he said. "I'm very proud of him and how he's persevered."

Unlike his grandfather, Chuck, and father, Jim, who started out as part-time sportscasters, Kanoa Leahey knew what he wanted to do at a young age.

"I have a long way to go, but I've been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to pursue this at a young age," said Kanoa, who was hired by Mike Vasconcellos to broadcast a girls' basketball game during his senior year at Iolani.

After attending UH for two years, Kanoa transferred to HPU, where he is currently a junior. Earlier this month, he became the first student from Hawaii to be awarded a Freedom Forum-NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship.

The HPU opportunity has allowed Kanoa to broadcast more than 100 games in volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.

Balancing his schedule between school and sporting events requires tight time management, Kanoa says.

He was in school yesterday from 8:45 a.m. to noon. After lunch, a brief nap and game preparation, Kanoa arrived at Hans L'Orange Field at 4 p.m. to do HPU's weekly sport show.

Kanoa knows that in the near future, he'll have to decide on whether to remain in Hawaii or pursue his dream elsewhere.

"I love Hawaii, but I'm going to have to see where I am first before making that decision," he said.

"He has a real passion for this," Jim Leahey says. "What impresses me is how quick he is.

"The whole love of language and love of the game. He has a great vocabulary for someone at 21.

"But I want him also to think about something more than talking into a piece of tin."

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