"If a guy's [minor league] home team was Hawaii and he was called up to the big leagues," wrote then-pitcher and later WABC-TV New York sportscaster Jim Bouton in his 1969 journal Ball Four, "he might well decide he didn't want to go."
Hawaii is still that beautiful, but the past decade was lousy for the local economy and not that great for local television. The tourism-based economy suffered from the drop in travel precipitated by the Gulf War and downturns in the Japanese economy. Then, as the market looked to be recovering, the U.S. economy started tanking, and 9/11 caused another drop in travel.
"It's paradise here," says Michael Rosenberg, general manager of Hearst-Argyle's KITV, "but there may be better places to enjoy the business of television."
Still, "this is ultimately what you'd like the Planet Earth to be," says John Fink, general manager of Raycom's KHNL(TV) and KFVE(TV). "The quality of life is unsurpassed, and it's the ultimate melting pot."
Advertising in the heavily cabled market is mostly local, and, when you buy Honolulu, you buy all of Hawaii.
KHNL's news won the February book, marking the first time in memory that local ratings weren't dominated by Emmis's KHON-TV. Although the perennial leader returned to form by May, KHNL managed to remain in second place. KFVE claims to offer more local sports than any U.S. station, with more than a hundred University of Hawaii contests.
Emmis also owns Fox affiliate KGMB(TV), the group having been granted repeated waivers while it waits either to sell the station or for some regulatory relief. Because both network affiliates offer local news, there has been some local opposition to the duopoly.