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Ako replacing Heu at KHON in her TV news comeback

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 2:54 p.m. HST, Jun 16, 2014

Well, that was a no-brainer. Diane Ako is returning to television.

The award-winning anchor and reporter, formerly with KHNL-TV for some 13 years, will succeed Olena Heu on KHON's "Wake Up 2day" following Heu's June 27 swan song.

Ako also will do some field reporting. Her first day at the local Fox TV affiliate will be June 23, but her morning anchoring duties begin June 30.

"I'm extremely, extremely excited," Ako told TheBuzz.

"I love news and am so ready to return."

She has missed being in a newsroom environment since her last day at KHNL-TV in October 2009, one day prior to the launch of Hawaii News Now (comprising KHNL and KGMB-TV).

In the five intervening years, she wrote the "Small Talk" blog for the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser website and served as director of public relations for the three hotels of Hale­ku­lani Corp. for three of those years. She stepped down in February.

"I definitely appreciated Hale­ku­lani," Ako said. "It was a fabulous, fabulous experience. I see things from a broader and different perspective, and I think I bring a better employee to the table now."

The pieces came together quickly for Ako and KHON — Heu's departure plan and Ako's expression of interest to return to the TV news business nearly "crossed in the mail," as people of a certain age are wont to say.

The process moved not just quickly, but smoothly.

"From the moment I walked in to KHON, going in for my interview, it felt like going home," Ako said. In subsequent days, going in to re­cord an on-set anchor session with Ron Mizu­tani "felt natural."

"I'm excited to be part of the award-winning news team at KHON2," Ako said.

KHON General Manager Kristina Lockwood noted that Ako's "years of experience in broadcast journalism will add significant value to our morning newscast, and we think viewers will be excited to see her back in television news."

News Director Lori Silva appreciates that Ako "understands how busy viewers' mornings can be," which is "right in line with our goals and the content we strive to deliver on ‘Wake Up 2day.'"

Ako's new schedule will require middle-of-the-night wake-ups.

"I feel like life involves sacrifices," she said. She has a 7-year-old daughter and noted that "If I work the night shift, I will never see her. So, do I sacrifice sleep or my relationship with my daughter?"

Daughter wins. Another no-brainer.

Reach Erika Engle at 529-4303, or on Twitter as @erikaengle.

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