Refreshed and ready


POSTED: Thursday, March 05, 2009

At the core, TV and print journalists do the same in reporting the news of the day, and now video and text are converging online. But our TV cousins have one concern most print reporters don't: looking good while doing the job.

Print reporters operate in relative anonymity, reveling in their freedom to trek about town as homely as they wanna be, with overgrown tresses, a whisper of makeup, in slippers and, in some cases, shorts. Try that when you're on camera. Hoo-boy, you'd hear back from news followers who just might put personal grooming ahead of the facts.

“;Appearance—your makeup, hair and clothes—is one of the last things we talk about in the news business when we're focusing on content,”; said Mahealani Richardson, co-anchor for KITV news and “;Island Television News This Morning.”; “;It's considered superficial, but it's one of the first things people see and they can be extremely critical.”;

She and fellow morning-team members Dan Meisenzahl, Amber-Lynn Hyden and Yasmin Dar recently headed to J Salon for makeovers to update or refresh their looks and welcome Dar to the early telecast, where she provides real-time traffic news.

“;They wanted to do something fun together and wanted that camaraderie to come across on air,”; said J Salon owner Joe Randazzo, who's seen increased traffic since moving from downtown to his Auahi Street location. “;People who work together in TV media are seen as a group, and they should look like they're part of the same family so one person doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.”;

That meant some brow grooming and skin moisturizing for long-timer Meisenzahl, and a touch of highlights for Richardson. Most of the attention was focused on Dar and relative newcomer Hyden.

Dar, also a host for the automotive TV magazine “;Ohana Road,”; had been unable to change her style sooner because of other part-time modeling work.

“;I had the signature long-hair-with-layers look and had spent a long time thinking I needed a change but thought I couldn't. For modeling, I needed to look like the photo on my comp card. It wasn't until I was in the chair that I decided I was going to get bangs.”;

Inspired by Jessica Alba's photograph on the March cover of Elle magazine, “;I just said, 'Let's do it.'”;

Hyden, who joined the staff after losing her job as an Aloha Airlines flight attendant, is still trying to reconcile her carefree, natural style with the rigors of on-camera work.

“;I'm not much of a makeup person, and I'd always had uniform-type jobs where I didn't have to keep up with appearances,”; she said. She was shocked by criticism she received when she first went on air.

“;I had a job where I served drinks and food, I talked to people and it was like a party. People are pleasant when you have that face-to-face interaction,”; she said. “;Now if I wear my hair wrong, I get e-mails. I think people feel like they know you when they watch you every day, so they feel they can make personal comments, but in e-mail it's easy to take things the wrong way.”;

“;I had one viewer who asked who I slept with—male or female—to get my job, because she said I was terrible,”; Meisenzahl said. “;In a way, that was a relief, because from that point I knew that no matter how hard you try, you can never please everybody.”;

Richardson, who joined the staff in 1996, said she feels sorry for the newcomers now that the Internet has made it easy to reach out and cast barbs.

“;When I started, I was making $6 an hour as a reporter, less than minimum wage. I had this black jacket that I wore pretty much five days a week. My boyfriend's friends used to laugh at me and criticize me because I didn't have clothes, but I didn't have money! But I didn't have to deal with the kind of criticism that we have now that people can react immediately with technology. Before, people had to write a letter or make a phone call.

“;I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. Sometimes what they're saying may be important, so I have to take it into consideration and not take it personally.”;

In the past a media star could negotiate for a clothing allowance, but the current economic climate has put an end to that practice, and it shows in the casual streetwear showing up elsewhere on air.

“;Clothes should reflect your personality,”; Richardson said. “;I try to wear something based on the news of the day, as much as I can anticipate. Like, on Valentine's Day I'll wear red. If it's a somber day I'll wear a darker color.”;

Reporters and anchors are also responsible for their own makeup, which for other camera work would normally call for professional handiwork. The worst is yet to come now that TV stations are gearing up for telecasts in high definition.

“;HD is my worst nightmare,”; Richardson said. “;It's great for viewers, but it's changing the entire TV industry. People are having to learn to do airbrush makeup because, if you have a makeup smudge, a scar or blemish, it'll jump off the screen. But we're not there yet, so I'm good with that.”;


Visit for a video of the makeover.