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KITV names Kekaula, Akana as co-anchors


    Paula Akana, left, and Robert Kekaula. Kekaula and Akana have been named the new weeknight 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchors at KITV effective Feb. 13, the station announced today, the first day of the February Nielsen TV ratings period.

Robert Kekaula and Paula Akana have been named the new weeknight 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchors at KITV effective Feb. 13, the station announced today, the first day of the February Nielsen TV ratings period.

Stepping down as sports director, Kekaula will succeed co-anchor Yunji de Nies, who will leave the station at the end of the month.

“We are incredibly proud of Robert and Paula for their respected careers and their impact on local news in Hawaii,” said KITV President and General Manager Joe McNamara, in a statement.

Kekaula’s more than 30 years in radio and television have been spent primarily in sports, but with this change, fellow KITV anchor Mike Cherry will step in as sports anchor for the 5 p.m. weekday newscast.

Brandi Higa will serve as sports anchor for the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news, and weather anchor Pete Caggiano will appear on all three weeknight newscasts.

Kekaula served a recent, temporary stint as co-anchor of the weekday news.

Akana started at KITV as an intern in 1983, and in the years since has produced many special reports for the station including coverage of the voyages of Hokule‘a.

De Nies, who recently gave birth, said via email, “I have enjoyed my time at KITV and loved sharing the stories of Hawaii with viewers every night. Robert and Paula are veteran broadcasters and my dear friends, and I wish them success.”

De Nies left a network-level reporting job at ABC to join KITV, returning home to Hawaii where she was raised. She is a graduate of Yale University with a master’s degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Journalism.

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      • Yes, Akana has a professional delivery and I think she’s a good one. Kekaula is better suited for sports but I’d still watch him deliver the news because I think he’s interesting and I do have a high opinion of him overall.

        • Kekaula is very smart and knowledgeable about local sports. He has zero experience in covering local, national or international news.

        • Give the hawaiian a chance! If no can, they’ll take him off. I think it’s well deserved especially since these 2 have been the longest tenured on this network! I wonder if he’ll have to shave?

      • KITV has probably given up trying to compete with KHON and KGMB and resigned itself to last place. Given that, they figure they should just save money by getting rid of the last person with any real news creds and that was Yunji DeNies. For the morning they replaced veteran anchors Ann Sterling and Lara Yamada with a younger (ie less pay), less experienced version of the two with Lindsey Fukano. KITV had De Nies, Yamada, Sterling and Kenny Choi (he left to go to a San Francisco news station with a much larger market), one of the few Asian male news anchors anywhere in the US and if they had the right management, they could have built a following with this group to compete against KHON (old man Moore) and KGMB. Instead the station is poorly managed and does not know how to successfully compete in the Hawaii news market. Once in a while might watch and listen to Fukano in the morning but other than that NEVER watch KTIV news unless I am flipping channels while the other stations are on commercial break. KITV news are like UH football, desperately trying to get out of the cellar and wondering why all the very top Hawaii blue chip prospects avoided UH and all signed up for mainland colleges, yet despite all the positive hype there is an underlying reason why they perpetually struggle to get out of the cellar. You hope for the best but for good reason, doubt they will ever improve.

        • Agree with everything you said, except the analogy to UH football, but that’s for another day. Kenny Choi was easily KITV’s best anchor.

          Yunji is very likable and genuine but she’s awful as an anchor. She trips over words and phrases every night it’s become a joke with our family. “There she goes again!” One night she caught herself and even laughed at what she said; give her credit for that. I think she’s a much better reporter, but maybe she thinks she’s outgrown that phase. Best of luck to her, and this new team.

        • Good analysis. When I occasionally watch KITV news, it looks like they’re aiming for simple and low-budget. There’s no sense that they’re trying to be “HAWAII’S MOST WATCHED NEWS!” as HNN will tell you.

          And now they pick this overweight guy who talks like a person with respiratory issues to be the face of their news.

        • Kenny Choi and Yunji were great to watch but UH Football is by far better than both! I think Coach Rolo has shown to manage things well thus far. He got a bowl win in his first year just like Coach Jones. Good luck to everyone at KITV. Continue to take pride in your opportunity to bring the news to those who support you daily.

      • A lot of current anchors, local and national, started in sports and have translated the skills needed there into reading so-called hard news. Robert has skills and smarts. He’ll do fine. And Paula always brings class and heart to what she does, so this team could click well. Gonna give them a shot, though I normally watch other stations.

  • The only constant is change but I didn’t see this coming. I like Kekaula as a sports anchor for his enthusiasm but he does seem a little out of place as a news anchor. Seems like sometimes he still thinks he’s talking about sports when he’s reporting a house fire. Should be interesting though. Kekaula definitely is a character. All the others sitting at the desk are dressed in formal business attire, while he’s there in his beyond bright aloha shirt.

  • Bad move on the part of management. I expect that the next person to leave will be Mike Cherry. He did not leave KGMB to resume being the sports guy again but this time at KITV.

    • And Mike Cheery did what for KITV? Real tired of his pouting facial expression and his made up announcer voice. His posture on television was staged like he was some premadana.

      They should have given Brandy Higa the chance at sports director, Cherry is out., will end up on OC16 with the rest of the losers…..

  • Is Robert Kekaula the same guy who dresses as if it’s “Aloha Friday” EVERY day ?
    Has he ever worn a tie or even sports jacket ?

    I found him very distracting… so I stopped watching when he’s on the tube.

  • Kekaula is knowledgeable. Smart guy. But his tonality and desk presence is not up to news anchor par. Just sayin’. What da hell was KITV thinking? Of all the possible avenues they could have pursued, they went with RK for news anchor?

  • There will be no more hard reporting on any local people in power with these two. They both have to find out who is related to who before they will say any thing about a local. I see too many stories on the other channels that kitv will not touch until it is old news.

    • fyi: Anchors have nothing to do with news gathering or story selection. They simply read what’s presented to them, and somehow get paid much more than reporters.

  • KITV and its sister METV have way too much news and it is on at the same time in the morning on Sat an Sunday. I watch METV (Old programs) to get away from Boring News but KITV pe-empts the Good programs to air thie Boring L O N G news report.

  • He was doing the newscasts a few weeks ago with Brandi doing sports in his place – I guess that was the test and pre-cursor to this. I’m surprised Mike is going back to doing sports – that was the main reason why he left HNN because he couldn’t “enjoy” sports because he was reporting on it instead of watching it. I guess times are hard when no one wants to come and work for your station and those who are/were there leave (Pamela, Mahealani, etc.)

  • One of the reasons I do not care to watch KITV is the quality of the broadcast. It is not in HD, so the picture is really grainy and just poor quality, almost like an amateur cable show. But now, even more so. I already do not care for Kekaula announcing UH football (he overexaggerates and seems fake doing so), and now he’s an ANCHOR?

  • wow….can KITV get any lower. Wait…breaking news: Olelo just moved ahead of KITV in the ratings. Mike Cherry…how do you like em now….came in saying he needed anchor experience before leaving to go to mainland…well, looks like you’ll need a job now.

  • The Hawaiian Dynamic Duo! Yaaaay! Good chemistry too! But I think….. Robert is going to miss his gig reporting the Sports. Huh?
    BTW? Where is Yunji De Nies Going? She was half of my Favorite KITV anchors along side Paula Akana! Since Both ladies are from the big Island ? Maybe Yunji’s heading back to the Big Island,raise a family?

  • OH NO! Paula and Mike should be the co-anchors. But Robert K. No waaaay…I always change the channel when he’s on. I agree with most of the comments about Robert K. especially his upset bout with the former news director.

    • Anchors are not supposed to give opinions on what they’re talking about. They’re paid to deliver the news. You could have an anchor who doesn’t know the difference between the house and senate, but if the delivery is great it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately for KITV, RK does not have a great delivery.

  • Will miss Yunji DeNies. Best wishes. Robert Kekaula!? Ah, give him a chance. But don’t know if I can take him seriously. Good sportscaster, but hard news? If Robert Kekaula is serious about being a news anchor, will he be giving up his gig broadcasting Uof Hawaii football games? Sports, one thing, War, another thing.

  • It’s going to be awesome watching Braddah Robert behind the Anchor desk talking about Trump and other state news. These 2 have always been the face of KITV and are respected throughout the state. Congrats KITV! Looking forward to seeing Brandi Higa do greater things being in charge of Sports! She awesome to watch and her energy just cuts through the television screen! Looking forward to this great direction! Imua!

  • Of all the talented people, from here or from mainland, KITV could have put in the anchor chair and they chose Kekaula??? KITV is like the Trump administration….they’re draining the swamp. Was a KITV watcher….I’d would rather watch a test pattern than this line up.

  • Paula Alana is a top notch reporter and journalist. kekaula on the other hand is the complete opposite. Paula will have to carry the burden of having to carry the load with this team.

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