Not surprisingly, there’s turmoil on island radio as broadcast figures were abruptly released earlier this week with scanty warning. This kind of bleep happens often, so Summit Media’s decision to erase the blackboard and start anew is part of the heartbeat of radio.

Tweaking the programming seems to be one of the reasons, though staff reduction and cutbacks can be logically linked to the pandemic, which has businesses trying to balance the book.

And yes, listeners comfortable to tuning in to the voices they hear while breezing along the freeways get huhu about change. It might be rude to say it, but bosses and businesses have little respect and mana’o for valued and dedicated employees. This wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

That’s why there’s a mounting number of Facebook postings about the release of a handful of staff, without the customary two-weeks notice. One day you’re in, next day you’re out. Call it what it is: mass firings.

Billy V, a broadcast voice and face since 1990, whose lone Saturday afternoon slot has been abolished on Hawaiian 105 KINE, was informed by phone of his termination. He previously was an on-air personality on KCCN FM 100 and Hawaiian 105 for nearly 30 years, but longevity didn’t matter.

Billy V

“I was privileged to work with Hawaii’s best, many of whom have become my radio family,” said Billy V. “As this transition takes place, I am hopeful that the value of Hawaiian 105 KINE and KCCN FM 100 are known to the current owners. The music of our islands, contemporary and traditional, is second to none.”

Perhaps more critically, Danielle Tucker, the voice of island traffic, has been wiped out of Summit’s stations, leaving a void of key and informative public service during morning and afternoon commuter. She provides quick, accurate reports of traffic movement, including accidents, a role she will continue on Hawaii News Now (KGMB and KHON) during afternoon drive.  But radio is key for traffic scrutiny because it happens in real time, not TV. I mean, do you rely on radio at home, unless there’s a hurricane coming or a tidal wave alert?

In island radio, morning drive is key to a station’s popularity and advertising power. Most people tune in to radio en route to work or school, so that is why Michael W. Perry  reigns in the ratings, a “trend” that started in the KGMB/KSSK era when J. Akuhead Pupule (Hal Lewis) built a following inherited when Perry teamed up with Larry Price to continue the KSSK dominance.

Since no one prints or monitors radio ratings anymore, Perry cruises at the perch. Truly, is KSSK the No. 1 station? Where are the Arbitron numbers of the past? Does it matter, since you listen to what you like?

Perry is not part of the Summit lineup – Hawaiian 105, KCCN FM 100, Power 1043 and Krater 95 – but he competes with other announcers to retain the crown. Radio, like TV (think Hawaii News Now, aka KGMB and KHON), has become a “group” commodity, where multi stations function under one owner. That’s why when there’s a sweep of talent, more than one are shown the exit door.

Billy V is a TV journalist now, so his reactionary blogs are informative, not argumentative.

In one posting, he said Patti Ponimoi will be general manager, and Micah Banks will be programming director, adding a comment from Randy Chase, executive vice president of Summit Media, who said the stations are “committed to Hawaii and serving the Honolulu community. While we recently made some difficult business decisions, I can assure our listeners and advertisers that we are not changing the format of any station in our cluster. More so than ever, we will continue the tradition of Hawaiian music and celebrate the culture on FM100 KCCN and Hawaiian 105 KINE.”

Danielle Tucker

The question is, why fix it if it’s not broken? We’ll have to wait and see what evolves.

The portals of Hawaiian radio have featured a host of dedicated announcers, including Krash Kealoha, Kimo Kahoano, Skylark Rossetti, Iaukea Bright, Randy Hudnall, Donovan Solto, Mele Apana, and Harry  B. Soria Jr.

Tucker, who has been doing traffic reports two decades, said in her post: “I won’t be able to communicate traffic conditions to you over the radio. I’m no longer employed by the radio station group I’d been with for 20 years. I’m not the only one released, and that takes some sting out of it, but the suddenness is jarring.”

Indeed, but she functioned in her own sphere, reliably reporting the doings on the road, but when a station does housekeeping, it sweeps out some valuables. Tucker is one of those media gems…

And that’s Show Biz. …


‘Tis been a good season for family newsletters that normally flourish during the holidays. I don’t do these recaps of my life and experiences, mainly because I do ongoing Facebooks postings or columns throughout the year.

This past Christmas, I pored through some of newsletters that came with either a family portrait or a Christmas card, and wowie — some tidbits of joy and milestones provided appealing revelations of achievements. Some do terrific reportage of the past 12 months; others try but are not particularly precise in reportage. Not that it matters, but you need to have the smarts to make your chats appealing.

One of the best do-ers of these recaps is Mo Bright, widow of Ron Bright, mostly because her family is so active, there’s never a lack of news.  Back in the day, birthday celebrations were highlights of the chats. They still are, and if you want to send a shout-out to Mo, who admitted turning 80 this past year, and her eldest son, Clarke Bright, celebrated his 60th, do so, belatedly.

Bright family portrait, which accompanied a newsy annual newsletter at Christmas time.

But clearly, her ‘ohana accomplishments are something to shout about; show biz run through the family DNA, making the profiles involving. FYI, Clarke is maestro of the Royal Hawaiian Band and wife Lynell grooms and teaches chorus kids at Kamehameha. Their children, Chris and Candace Bright, have moved back to Hawaii, settling into a family rental in Waipahu. He continues to write film scripts and is a photography hobbyist, and occasionally performs on stage. She completed her final year of residency at a Sacramento hospital. Younger brother Timbo resides in New York and will be watching for Broadway auditions.

Jodi and Lee Stein (she’s the only Bright daughter) are formally retired now; their eldest daughter, Lauren, has a new beau in Jared Rish, a Naval officer. Their daughter Mio, Mo’s youngest grandchild at 10, is an outdoors sort who finds joy in swimming and ju-jitsu.

Michael and Jade Bright continue life as educators; he, as a math teacher at Kamehameha, and she, as a kindergarten teacher at Ahuimanu. Their eldest, Caity, is a university student and Target employee. Brother Drew, a freshman at Castle High School, is a theater enthusiast who played the role of Dmitri in the Castle Performing Arts Center’s “Anastasia” last month at the Bright theater named after his grandfather Ron. Other brother Colton is in middle school at Kamehameha, and he delivered an oli at Disney Aulani this past summer.

Of course, a roster of Bright-ers were part of a virtual performance of the I’m a Bright Kid Foundation’s summer special, “Brighter Still.”  That tag could be applied to the heartbeat of the Bright ‘ohana, brightening the casts whenever feasible. …

The Tanaka camp

Nanci Tanaka

Nanci Tanaka, widow of singer Teddy Tanaka (formal surname, Chinen) devotes much of her time as a River of Life Mission volunteer, but their children have show biz and education-related jobs.

Daughter Harmoni and her husband Dan Cruz reside in Manhattan Beach, Calif., where she is an attorney for Amazon Films International and he is vice president at Disney for marketing and partnershiup for Marvel Studios. Their son Cameron Takashi and daughter Caia Kiyoko are Loyola Elementary students, too young for show biz yet.

Son Nate Chinen and wife Ashley, along with daughters Athena and Rosalie, moved from New York to Philadelphia. He previously was a jazz critic for the New York Times, and now writes a blog and is associated with WGBO/National Public Radio, enabling the NPR station a digital footprint in jazz.

Another daughter Sheri, and hubby John Gizis, are professors at Rowan and Delaware Universities, respectively…

Words worth sharing

Frances Kakugawa

Frances Kakugawa, a poet from Kapoho and a former school teacher who now is a noted and published poet as well as motivational speaker on Alzheimer’s and caregiving,  completed her fifth Wordsworth book (awaiting a publisher’s green light). She says a musical based on the first two volumes of her Wordsworth mouse character’s adventures, has been further delayed till next spring, when the University of Hawaii at Hilo will stage “Wordsworth the Musical.” A Hawaiian language version will be taped for a future Hawaiian festival event.

The pandemic, nearing its third anniversary, has turned Kakugawa, a very active senior citizen, into an online shopper – and briefly transformed her into what she calls “a dysfunctional alien, 10 on the Embarrassment Scale.”

She used to do in-store buying at Trader Joe’s and Raley’s in Sacramento, where she now lives.

She hustles her carts through the check-out counters, but on one occasion, she walked off unknowingly not paying till she was stopped with a shameful “Ma’am, you need to pay for your purchases.” Her retort later: “This is what online purchases will do.”

Her newsletter didn’t include  a chuckle but she shared an incident on Facebook.  An Amazon order was shipped to her home; anticipating delivery, she left her front gate open so the delivery person could place it close to the home. But a thief stole the wrapped box, forcing her to report the misdemeanor to Amazon, who promptly agreed to resend the order. And then the errant box returned, opened with a book sticking out. “Not a reader,” said Kakugawa. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Just asking…

On cloudy, rainy days like today and yesterday, don’t you feel like singing a weather-related song?

That ominous, threatening layer of clouds lingering yesterday over the islands produced a lot of liquid sunshine, prompting me to think about weather tunes.

Ominous clouds over Honolulu yesterday.

Here are 10 tunes — to search for in your disc collections or to request your favorite deejay to play — to keep you in the rainy-cloudy-stormy vein:

  • “Rhythm of the Rain,” by The Cascades.
  • “The Rain in Spain, Stays Mainly on the Plain,” by Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” (varies if film or stage).
  • “Set Fire to the Rain,” by Adele.
  • “Get Off of My Cloud,” by the Rolling Stones.
  • “Singing in the Rain,” by Gene Kelly.
  • “Both Sides Now,” by Judy Collins or Joni Mitchell.
  • “Cloud Nine,” by the Temptations.
  •  “Stormy Weather,” by Lena Horne.
  • “Come Rain or Come Shine,” by Margaret Whiting and various artists.
  • “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” by B. J. Thomas.
    Of course, the childhood-era “Rain, Rain Go Away” might be the simplest song on the rainy list, and if there’s rain, there just must be rainbows, so credit Judy Garland for her “Over the Rainbow” original, and home-grown Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole” for re-inventing his version fused with “What a Wonderful Day.”

Do you have a weather-related song you wanna hear  on a cloudy day?

And here’s to a sunny tomorrow…


They’ve been staples of the entertainment scene for decades, but they’ve never worked together. Till now.

A pair of Filipino headliners – crooner Martin Nievera, a favorite in Hawaii and a superstar in the Phillipines, and saxophonist Michael Paulo, a beloved star on the jazz front – will team up for their first concert together at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Hibiscus Ballroom of the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra. A VIP meet-and-greet reception, from 7 to 8 p.m.,  will be precede the concert.

The two share another commonality: Both Nievera and Paulo are sons of notable performers. Nievera’s dad is the late balladeer Roberto Nievera, a former luminary in the Society of Seven group that helped put the Outrigger Waikiki’s Main Showroom on the map for decades,  and Paulo’s pop is the famed pianist Rene Paulo, a headliner with wife Akemi on the lounge and show circuit for decades before their retirement.

Martin Nievera

The gig is being staged by Paulo’s Apaulo Production company, and he has been a frequent jazz headliner in Waikiki, hosting jazz peers over the decades. 

Nievera, who has not performed in the islands for three years, will bring his stable of pop and Filipino tunes that he has shared in gigs in his now-home, the Philippines, where Nievera is billed as “the concert king of the Philippines,” as well as his shows in Las Vegas and New York. Most recently, he gigged at the Blue Note Hawaii located in the Outrigger Waikiki, where the wannabe singer spent several years watching his dad perform with his “Uncle” Tony Ruivivar, a co-founder of the SOS show band.

Paulo has performed locally and internationally and recorded with a roster of jazz giants, including Miles Davis, Al Jarreau and Herbie Hancock and has concertized with legendary R&B and pop artists including James Ingram, Jeffrey Osborne, Deniece Williams, Kenny Loggins, Bobby Caldwell and many others. 

Participating musicians will be Tateng Katindig, keyboards; Johnny Valentine, electric guitar, David Inamine, bass, Michael Grande, keyboards, Garin Poliahu, drums; and a horn section featuring DeShannon Higa, trumpet.

Michael Paulo

Rocky Brown and Annamarie Love will be backup singers, with Al Waterson emceeing.

In a statement, Nievera said, “I get to share the stage with an all-star band hand-picked by world-renowned saxophonist Michael Paulo, one of the coolest, down-to-earth superstars I know.’
He added, “Let’s make some new memories for the new year – 2022 – in Honolulu!”

Tickets: VIP tables are $250, which includes a meet-and-greet cocktail reception from 7 to 8 p.m.; $75 for reserved seating; and $60 for general admission seating (theater-style). Visit www.TIX.com  or call (951) 696-0184.

A slice of ‘American Pie’

Barring a last-minute rescheduling, depending on the unpredictable COVID-19 and Omicron variant that could alter show protocols, look for Don McLean to return to Blue Note Hawaii Jan. 28 to 30. It’s a make-up engagement for postponed dates.

Don McLean

McLean, noted for his mammoth 1971  hit song “American Pie,” which chronicles real-life figures in the rock era, is slated to return to Blue Note. Two earlier playdates had to be rescgheduled because of the pandemic, which shut down clubs including the venue at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel.

While tickets now are on sale ($115 for VIP seating, $85 for table and bar area), previous tickets purchased before the postponement are still useable with possible complications for rescheduling and/or cancellations. However, this timetable will prevail:

  • Tickets for the original April 3, Oct. 21, 2020 or July 15, 2021 playdates will be valid for the Jan. 28 show.
  • Tickets bought for April 4, Oct. 22, 2020 or July 16, 2021 show are good for the Jan. 29 concert.
  • Tickets purchased for April 5, Oct. 23, 2020 or July 17, 2021 date will be OK for the Jan. 30 performance. For adjustments, visit www.bluenotehawaii.com or call (808) 777-4890. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

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Times change, and The Waynies – this column’s usual who’s-best and who’s-not recap of the past year – also is reimagined this year.

Let’s face it. The fading 2021 year has been better than 2020, when the pandemic pretty much shut down everything and erased normalcy.

We’re not quite over the hill and on the mountain  peak yet, especially in the entertainment genre. Activities are scanty; audiences still are somewhat fearful to go out in numbers.

So joyful is not the buzzword yet. Perhaps hopeful defines the present overall picture and mood.

In that spirit, we’re listing a different brand of The Waynies. Mostly, this has been a season of small hurrahs but promising growth and accomplishments.

So, onward with the revelation and recapitulation:

Best series set in Hawaii: “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” cast.
  • Best series set in Hawaii: Disney+’s “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”which is anticipating a second season pickup in the coming weeks. It’s a show that glows with island faces, knows the heartbeat of the local community, and reflects a vivid lifestyle of island living with a super duper cast led by Peyton Elizabeth Lee in the titular role of Lahela, who is not local, but pure hapa, surrounded by actors who portray genuine folks. Jason Scott Lee, in particular, is the best depiction of locals, as husband and father Benny Kamealoha who operates a floral/shave ice truck. Matt Sato as Kai Kamealoha, one of the sons, is the show’s breakout star. The series, written by Kourtney Kang, tapped the late Al Harrington as Uncle John, who earlier co-starred in the original “Hawaii Five-0,” in his final TV role. The show did the obvious in the finale: posting a loving memorial.
  • Best launch of a Hawaii-based series, CBS’ “NCIS: Hawai’i.” The rightful addition of the ‘okina in Hawai‘i” was a start, diacritically speaking. A big deal has been made about the franchise showcasing its first woman lead in Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, but what matters more is the modest hiring of locals in lead roles; the Polynesian/Asian blend is visible, but casting neglected an opportunity for a bona fide citizen actor to share co-starring promise, a common practice for network TV. ””NCIS,” like the reboots of two earlier CBS  series that set anchors here (“Magnum P.I,” and “Hawaii Five-O”), took the easy way out by neglecting a bona fide local who could earn his/her stripes given the chance.
Sparkplug: Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus.”
  • Worst depiction of islanders: “The White Lotus,” Mike White’s HBO-Max series set on Maui without specifying the site, had drama and melodrama aplenty, but little respect for islanders making a living at a ritzy resort. The intent was to portray a motley crew of  bored,  bickering, entitled and unruly travelers complaining about anything and everything; the bigger picture — the show disrespected the hospitality industry. The one savvy character: a son of one of the rich families paddled to his dream future by disbanding his ‘ohana. The one sparkplug in the bunch was Jennifer Coolidge, as Tanya McQuoid, a wounded, vulnerable and  dazed traveler, with a mission to scatter her mom’s ashes in a silver box. Since director-writer White intends to relocate “Lotus” in another locale for round two of his storytelling, he’d be wise to sign on his lucky charmer, Coolidge.
Best theatrical booster shot: “Hamilton” coming in 2022
  • Best theatrical booster shot: “Hamilton” finally is heading here in 2022, one of three fresh musicals in the first-ever Broadway “series” of shows. The other newbies are “Beautiful, the Carole King Musical,” and “Jersey Boys,” the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons bio-musical, which is excluded from the season package because it was booked and postponed and finally rescheduled. But the cat’s out of the bag again – “Cats,” a perennial touring show, is part of the three-show series, largely for folks who’ve not yet seen nor heard “Memory” in the context of the musical.
  • Speaking of theater: shout-outs to two Hawaii actors in “Hamilton;” Marc delaCruz is in the New York company, Joseph Morales is back in a national touring company portraying the titular role originated by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. And the company Morales is touring with is the one that is supposedly heading our way, so I’ve been urging producers of the Hawaii visit to ensure decision-makers to make sure Morales is part of the cast. That would be such a vibrant homecoming and a victory lap for him.
  • The power of plexiglas was everywhere and still is in vogue in restaurants and banks. It was Benjamin, in the 1967  film “The Graduate,”  who was told the future was in plastic, well before the pandemic forced merchants dealing with crowds here and abroad. Kudos to Blue Note Hawaii, one of the first showcases that dismantled its wall of plastic on stage. Won’t someone tell the folks at Medici’s to do the same?
Spirit award: Henry Kapono
  • The spirit award goes to Henry Kapono. He and his org have been everywhere; in a series of Blue Note Hawaii shows; at Duke’s at the Outrigger Waikiki; neighbor island jaunts; on TV commercials; a planned “Legends of Hawaii” tour with Keola Beamer next year; with regular Henry Kapono Foundation matters to tend to.
  • The musical marvel nod to Shari Lynn, whose annual biggie is a holiday season gig at Medici’s at Manoa Markertplace. When she’s not singing, she is a music teacher at Hawaii School for Girls at La Pietra, though retiring in 2022. Until COVID nixed it, she was the heart beat of the Sunset Jazz event at La Pietra. She is a photo hobbyist who creates travel photos into notecards; and she and hubby Michael are parents of a new furry pup, Lui (short for Luigi). Who could ask for anything more?
Bright-as-moon laurel: Robert. Cazimero
  • The bright-as-a-moon laurel, to Robert Cazimero, who rules over a Full Moon Concert at Chef Chai’s on Kapiolani Boulevard. Like a full moon, he shines and glows with serenades from behind the grand piano Chai Chaowasaree bought for him to invest in a monthly musical moonfest. The continuity is a marvel, with humble beginnings when Chai’s was a bistro/show space for local troupers at Aloha Tower Marketplace. A rare and generous bond; folks continue to support the music artistry and the culinary treats, a rare example of a chef’s commitment to provide a tuneful amenity for patrons, even during the pandemic social distancing and face masking rules.
  • The grand reopening of movie and stage theaters has been a welcome and joyous opportunity to see blockbusters on a large screen with all the bells and whistles of technology (compared to streaming a film at home) and live actors on stage in person. Even if you have to don a face mask. Amenities vary; the lounge seats are popular but expensive and the snacks are costly, at the movie houses (where sale prices of bottles of water would get you a full case at Longs or Target).  As the year ends, the stage theaters are still not fully  back-to-normal, awaiting cues from city officials and self-monitoring the surge of COVID and Omicron to address the distancing issues. Still, there’s hope; Manoa Valley Theatre is restoring the printed playbills for its next show — which were missing in action from both MVT and Diamond Head Theatre productions. …

And that’s Show Biz. …