The plan was for 2019-20 to be Jeff Portnoy’s final season as a radio analyst for University of Hawaii basketball, but his quarter-century behind the mic has ended with his removal by KKEA, 1420-AM.
Veteran play-by-play announcer Bobby Curran will go solo on both the home and away games when the season starts today, a spokesman for the station said.
Portnoy said he told the station of an intent to retire after this season but was told he was out. “They have every right to decide who does the broadcasts along with UH’s concurrence, but to do it two weeks before the season is inexcusable,” said Portnoy.
“I guess it is a good thing I kept my season tickets,” Portnoy said.
Portnoy, who is a partner in the Cades Schutte law firm, said, “They had six months (since the end of the last basketball season) to tell me what their plans were and no one gave me any indication that I wouldn’t be back,” Portnoy said. “I had already made plans, work-wise and travel-wise, to be at every single home game and had begun my preparation.”
Portnoy said, “I asked if it was financial or some other reason and the only thing they would tell me was ‘continuity’ and that is (expletive deleted).”
The move comes a month after the station, which brands itself as ESPN Honolulu, also dropped “Hoops Talk,” a weekly in-season basketball show hosted by Portnoy and former UH assistant coach Jackson Wheeler that had a run of eight-plus years.
In an email, KKEA general manager Matt Apana wrote, “Bobby Curran will continue to be our play by play commentator for all UH men’s basketball games. Just as Bobby has always ably covered the away games solo, so too will he do so for our home games this year. We do not have plans to replace Jeff at this time. We thank Jeff for serving as a color analyst these past years and wish him the very best.”
Apana declined to offer a reason for the change or for dropping “Hoops Talk.” He would not confirm whether baseball, which also uses multiple announcers, would also go solo.
Portnoy said he did not think UH was the cause of the cancellatiions. “I asked both David (athletic director Matlin) and Eran (head coach Ganot) and they said they were not involved and I believe them.”
Portnoy said he is talking to other stations about relocating “Hoops Talk.”
Portnoy, who specializes in First Amendment cases, has represented several media clients, including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.