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Kekaula leads lineup shuffle

By Ferd Lewis


After 12 years of doing color commentary on radio for University of Hawaii football, Robert Kekaula will make the jump to Warriors play-by-play for Oceanic Time Warner's debuting UH channel and pay-per-view cablecasts.

Kekaula, who is sports director at KITV, will be joined by commentators Darren Hernandez and Nate Ilaoa, Oceanic president Bob Barlow confirmed Monday.

The trio succeeds Jim Leahey, Shawn Ching and Russell Yamanoha, who handled football in 2010, the final season of KFVE's 28-year agreement with UH.

Leahey, 68, will continue to do Rainbow Wahine volleyball with Chris McLachlin, continuing a pairing that began in 1984.

Mike Machado, Leila Wai and Jessica Domingo will handle women's soccer.

Oceanic is said to be still assembling its lineup of sportscasters for winter and spring sports. An announcement on its pay-per-view package and UH channel plans is expected shortly.

"I'm impressed with their lineup across the board," said Jim Donovan, UH athletic director. "I think Robert has done a very good job on the radio the past (12) years and I think he will bring a real flavor to the broadcasts."

Kekaula had teamed with play-by-play announcer Bobby Curran on KKEA radio broadcasts since 1999, the first year of June Jones' reign. Curran said the station was "in the process" of seeking a replacement for Kekaula. "We have a short list, but because, in a couple of cases, I haven't talked to them yet, I don't want to say who they are," Curran said.

John Veneri, who has been the station's sideline reporter and was a slotback on UH's 1992 Holiday Bowl champion team, is expected to be looked at.

Curran said, "I just so enjoyed working with Robert. I totally get that almost everybody who does this sooner or later wants to do play-by-play. I completely understand him wanting to do that. I think he'll do a terrific job. I'm excited for him. I'm really gonna miss that guy.

"I think you have to embrace these things as a little bit of a challenge and a chance to sort of recharge."

KITV general manager Andrew Jackson termed it a "win-win situation," saying, "Oceanic is a terrific partner and this is deepening of our already existing relationship — our news updates and cut-ins are on Oceanic."

Hernandez has headed the Kapolei High football program since its 2000 inception and has done OC 16 telecasts. He and Ilaoa, a 2006 All-Western Athletic Conference running back, are former Warriors.

It has not yet been decided if one of them will be on the sideline or both will be in the booth with Kekaula.

Machado is a Kaiser graduate who played at Whittier College, while Wai (2000) and Domingo (2007) were All-WAC picks and captains for the Rainbow Wahine.

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