Longtime television and radio newsman and former "Poi Boy" disc jockey Jack Kellner died in Sonoma Wednesday night from lung cancer, friends and family said.
He was 75.
Kellner’s career in broadcasting spanned four decades in Hawaii, where he worked as a news anchor, reporter, assignment editor and news director.
Kellner was a "Poi Boy" on KPOI radio, where he helped popularize rock music among teenagers in Hawaii in the 1960s. He moved on to KHVH radio, working with Bob Sevey, Gene Good and Mason Altiery and did the news for Lucky Luck’s radio program before going to work for the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, according to local broadcast historian A.J. McWhorter.
He joined KGMB in 1966 and later worked for Gov. John Burns in 1971 as director of the Office of Information and Youth Affairs.
Kellner was also once the voice of Hawaii Civil Defense, regularly informing listeners that the emergency tone broadcast was "a test of the Emergency Broadcast System."
KHON-TV hired him in 1979 as assignment editor. Later, as news director, Kellner hired reporters Dalton Tanonaka, Chris Parsons and Barbara Marshall. He retired in 1999 after a stint as the station’s assistant news director for community affairs.
"He deserves much of the credit for the stability of Channel 2 during that time. He provided advice, friendship and perspective to the journalists who made up the Channel 2 news department during those decades," former KHON general manager Kent Baker said in an article by McWhorter published in 2010.
"He has one of the great broadcast voices of all time and is the funniest guy I have ever known," said longtime friend and broadcaster Don Robbs.
"Jack was special. He had that great broadcast voice and wry sense of humor," recalled Jim McCoy, a partner in Hoakea Communications, who worked with Kellner for years at KHON. "With Jack in the newsroom, a so-so day would always get better."
He recalled newsroom staff playfully wearing Groucho Marx-like glasses and bushy eyebrows to imitate Kellner, trying "to mimic that great voice saying, "’Hi, I’m Jack Kellner.’ Fact is, there was only one Jack Kellner, and he will be missed."
He is survived by his wife, Tomeko (Tommie); son, James "Aki" Peters; daughter, Betty Santos; a sister; and five grandchildren.
Services, both in California and Hawaii, are pending.