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Television newsman and former 'Poi Boy' Jack Kellner dies

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:09 p.m. HST, Jan 26, 2012

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.

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NanakuliBoss wrote:
Rest in Peace. You played music to the young people of Hawaii during the 60s and actually gave us a glimpse of the States. Thank You.
on January 26,2012 | 08:58AM
kainalu wrote:
I remember Jack Kellner. Our condolences to the family and friends of Jack.
on January 26,2012 | 09:01AM
nj24 wrote:
WOW. K-POI was THEE station in the 1960's. RIP.
on January 26,2012 | 09:26AM
dodgerblue wrote:
i was a KHON reporter and worked with Jack in the mid 1980's. His nickname was "Ner." This was the newsroom that finally knocked Bob Sevey and KGMB out of the number one news slot which they dominated for years! It was an animal house and jack was the only adult. But if you knew jack, he wasn't much of an adult. God speed, Ner. Try to cool it on the inappropriate jokes and stories up there. Behave!
on January 26,2012 | 11:23AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Ah, the Poi Boys. This was the greatest times in Hawaii radio.
on January 26,2012 | 11:48AM
MC96816 wrote:
I grew up watching Jack Kellner on KGMB. Rest in peace. Condolences to the family.
on January 26,2012 | 12:36PM
LungCancerHawaii wrote:
My condolences to Jack's family and friends. I lost my dad to lung cancer and am approaching my 2 year survival mark. Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the US, killing more people each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancers COMBINED. Usually diagnosed in the late stages, the mortality rate for lung cancer has remained the same since President Nixon declared war on cancer 40 years ago. Only 15 of 100 people diagnosed will live beyond 5 years. We all must know the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, especially if you have significant risk factors such as a smoking history, exposure to asbestos or radon, or a family history of lung cancer. To learn more, visit NationalLungCancerPartnership.org or email LungCancerHawaii@gmail.com What better tribute to Jack than to learn about lung cancer and share what you know with others!
on January 26,2012 | 12:45PM
kuewa wrote:
Wow-- what memories ! Those were the days when media "personalities" really had personalities, with a sense of excitement, humor and emotion about what was going on in the world around them. Now days, the personalities all seem so robotic and scripted. Mahalo, Mr. Kellner !
on January 26,2012 | 01:12PM
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