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Saturday, April 19, 2014         

LOOKING BACK


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Former local broadcaster Ed Evans finds higher calling

By A.J. McWhorter

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It has been 30 years since Ed Evans left the islands to return to the Pacific Northwest. Today, he looks back on his time in Hawaii during the late 1970s as a reporter and anchor. His broadcasting career took him from radio to television and later into another form of communication with a higher call.

Evans grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. During his senior year at Sandia High School he placed first at the state speech tournament in radio broadcasting. He started work in his broadcasting career the day after he graduated, reading the news for KLOS, a hometown country-western radio station. He left for Portland, Ore., to attend Lewis & Clark College, where he majored in communications. Evans was student manager of the campus radio station and worked as a disc jockey for KGY in Olympia and also had radio stops in Tacoma and Seattle. After graduating in 1968, he was hired to work at KOMO radio in Seattle, covering city hall and the state legislature.

In 1972, he joined KOMO television, where he first met longtime KHON anchor Barbara Tanabe. In 1977, Tanabe suggested Evans apply for the executive news producer's position at the Hawaii station. Evans was hired by news director B.J. Sams and later became a reporter and weekend anchorman, working with Melanie Granfors, Ray Lovell, Joe Moore, Les Keiter, Ed Michelman, Tom McWilliams, Lynne Russell, Scott Shirai and cameraman George Cabral Jr.

"I loved working with George Cabral Jr. He had the connections to be able to get us into anywhere," said Evans.

He also taught broadcast news for three semesters at the University of Hawaii. Some of his more memorable interviews include Ted Turner in Honolulu, when CNN debuted on local cable television, and World War II hero Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

During his time in the islands, Evans often interviewed key political figures like Mayor Frank Fasi, Gov. George Ariyoshi and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. "He (Inouye) was always kind, very accommodating and would gladly show up at the station at my request," Evans said.

He recalls the controversy over moving Hansen's disease patients from Hale Mohalu to Leahi Hospital and the Constitutional Convention in 1978. Evans also described the Chevron fire of 1980: "It was a huge fire. KHON chartered a helicopter to get some aerial shots. Giant columns of black smoke spewed from the fire. I rode in the helicopter, then covered some of the cleanup from the ground level. I recall that chemicals on the ground did some pretty serious damage to the soles of my shoes."

In September 1980 he left KHON to work at KIRO television in Seattle for 11 years as capital bureau chief in Olympia. He happened to live on the same street as the late KGMB newsman Bob Sevey, and when Evans left the news business in 1991, Sevey told him: "Don't worry Ed, there is life after television."

"And he was right," said Evans.

He went on to earn a master's of divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Evans served at Blaine United Church of Christ in Blaine, Wash., and later as pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Vancouver, Wash.

"My spirit has been renewed and energized by the work I have done in ministry. While I loved broadcasting, I had become quite dismayed with the downward spiral of the tone of the industry," he said.

After retiring in 2006, Evans moved to Sequim, Wash., but remains active in the church. He said that while living in Hawaii, he found the beauty of the islands "always very moving."

"My wife and I became active at Waiokeola Congregational Church, where we developed many close, lifelong friends," he said.

A.J. McWhorter, a collector of film and videotape cataloging Hawaii's TV history, has worked as a producer, writer and researcher for both local and national media. His column runs on the first Monday of each month. E-mail him at flashback@hawaii.rr.com.






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