KITV’s Dan Cooke leaving
for national news service

The co-anchor will become
president of the new company

By Erika Engle

KITV-4 is losing another high-profile face.

Anchorman Dan Cooke, 45, is the third on-air person to announce a departure in recent weeks, following weekend anchor and business reporter Ann Botticelli and court reporter Cedric Yamanaka.

"I have a 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, and working a 2-to-midnight shift, you don't see your kids," Cooke said. "I've been an absentee father all their lives. I'm really a weekend daddy."

But the prospect of leaving the comfort zone of the anchor desk is a bit daunting.

"It's a little scary, and I'm conflicted about leaving such great partners and such a great organization, but ... when you weigh things out, family comes first and I've got to start walking the walk," said Cooke, who co-anchors the weekday 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts with Paula Akana.

He will become president and chief executive of a start-up national news service, which he will run from Hawaii.

"It's in partnership with some reputable, very reputable news providers," he said, but he declined further comment, citing ongoing development, proprietary and privacy issues.

His voice-over and other work with sports marketing company Team Unlimited producing sports-related programming will continue, Cooke said.

News Director Tod Pritchard said the station is sad to see him go.

"Dan has been an outstanding part of this news team," Pritchard said.

The exodus of the threesome should not send a bad signal to news viewers, Pritchard said.

"I'm concerned about it, but I hope that people understand that these are individuals making choices about their lives," he said, adding that the timing is coincidental.

Ratings for KITV's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts have been dropping for more than a year in the face of increased competition between TV newscasts and high-impact programming such as the Olympics on other network-affiliated stations. KITV, an ABC affiliate, is tied for third place for the 6 p.m. newscast, and is in last place at 10 p.m.

Cooke's contract with the station expires in the next few weeks, Pritchard said, but his last day will be negotiated.

Botticelli left to become a vice president at public relations company Communications-Pacific, and Yamanaka for a job as press secretary for Gov. Ben Cayetano.

The station is close to hiring a replacement for Botticelli, Pritchard said, but the reporter job left vacant by Yamanaka remains unfilled.

As for who will fill Cooke's anchor chair, "I think we have some excellent internal candidates," Pritchard said. "I think there are people here who currently live in Hawaii that will probably be interested, and I'm sure we will probably get some interest from the mainland."

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