By T. Ilihia Gionson / Ka Wai Ola
Ola ka '?lelo Hawai'i ma '? a '?, ma n? k?w? a ma n? lolouila p? kekahi, ma ka polokalamu n?hou 'o '?ha'i '?lelo Ola. The Hawaiian language lives on TVs across Hawai'i and on computers around the world with '?ha'i '?lelo Ola bringing the news of Hawai'i and the world home in the native tongue.
'?ha'i '?lelo Ola was only going to be a five-day special segment on KGMB9 news in 2008, but a thick stack of e-mails saying "It's about time" convinced the partners in the production otherwise. '?ha'i '?lelo Ola has become a daily segment on KGMB9's Sunrise morning show and celebrated its first anniversary last month. And starting April 5, '?ha'i '?lelo Ola will launch a half-hour news magazine at 4:30 p.m. every Sunday on KGMB9, with a new episode every other week.
"The idea behind '?ha'i '?lelo Ola isn't only (presenting) it in Hawaiian," said executive producer N?'?lehu Anthony. "It's telling stories from a Hawaiian cultural perspective and telling stories that wouldn't ordinarily be picked up by mainstream news."
"We are enormously proud and very excited to bring these programs to the people of Hawai'i," said Rick Blangiardi, general manager of KGMB9. Blangiardi was raised in a bilingual household speaking both English and Italian, and was formerly president of Spanish-language television network Telemundo, so Blangiardi understands the importance of language to cultural identity. "I see the potential of ('?ha'i '?lelo Ola), and I just know something good is going to come of this," he said.
"The value of '?ha'i '?lelo Ola to the Hawaiian language revitalization movement cannot be overstated," said anchor Amy Kalili. "Everyone in Hawai'i is touched by the Hawaiian language in small ways or big, and hearing the language on the news is an important validation to everyone that the language lives."
What began as a one-week gig for Kalili turned her into a household name and face across Hawai'i. "Expanding to a half-hour show is a big step forward, and helps us to stabilize and sustain the show. We can't say enough about how great Rick (Blangiardi) and everyone at KGMB9 has been," she said. In addition to anchoring '?ha'i '?lelo Ola, Kalili is part of 'Aha P?nana Leo's executive management team.
Chris Archer, news director at KGMB9, said that the partnership that blossomed in a week turned into a strong commitment to the people of Hawai'i, especially those revitalizing the Hawaiian language. "We want to be the local news station that everyone turns to, and it doesn't get any more local than this," he said.
'?ha'i '?lelo Ola is produced in partnership by 'Aha P?nana Leo, KGMB9 and Palik? Documentary Films. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is the title sponsor for the half-hour shows.
If you miss a segment, '?ha'i '?lelo Ola is also available on '?iwi TV, an interactive on-demand station on Oceanic Digital Channel 326. '?ha'i '?lelo Ola is also available online at HawaiianLanguage.tv.