Connecting Across the State

On Kauai, Leslie and colleague Nikki Miyamoto give pointers on video "voice-vers" to HIKI NŌ students.

On Kauai, Leslie and colleague Nikki Miyamoto give pointers on “voice-overs” to HIKI NŌ students.


Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS Hawaii

The firehose of information flooding the web is available to all users. How much of this web free-flow is reliable?


More and more, students are learning the skills used in journalism to vet information for accuracy and fairness. Media literacy is an increasingly valued 21st-century skill.


And despite having that web world at our fingertips, there’s still nothing like “being there” and seeing for oneself.


So, in our tech-heavy digital and broadcast field, PBS Hawaii opens our doors to students and teachers for in-person sharing, and we go where they are, too.


(Top left-right) Chief Engineer John Nakahira gives College of Education students a tour of the station’s master control. (Bottom right-left) The students in the studio wave to their classmates in the control room through the video feed of a studio camera operated by VP of Creative Services Roy Kimura.


This summer, we hosted young students from a summer program at the College of Education program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Professor Christina Torres’ students from 12 public schools, five charter schools and six private schools toured the TV station and learned the elements of factual storytelling with a creative flair. (We look forward to holding many more gatherings next year in our new building, under construction.)


Our HIKI NŌ team heads across the state for teacher/student workshops in digital media and quality storytelling, in collaboration with some of Hawaii’s top digital media teachers. Last month, at Kauai’s Chiefess Kamakahelei School in Lihue, HIKI NŌ Assembly Editor Nikki Miyamoto and I coached students on video “voice-overs” or narration. Beginners (and I was there once) tend to adopt a robotic or singsong delivery in an effort to sound neutral and objective, but real people speaking of new developments don’t speak that way.


Would you like to see our HIKI NŌ students’ completed work on the big screen? We invite you to join us in celebrating students’ media literacy and other 21st-century skills at these free screenings of outstanding hyperlocal stories:


MAUI: Sun., Aug. 16, Historic Iao Theater, Wailuku,
3:00 pm reception, 4:00 pm screening

HILO: Sat. Aug. 22, Palace Theater,
3:00 pm reception, 4:00 pm screening

KONA: Sun., Aug. 23, Aloha Theater,
3:00 pm reception, 4:00 pm screening

KAUAI: Sat., Aug. 29, outdoors at Island School, Lihue,
6:00 pm reception, 7:00 pm screening

OAHU: Wed., Sept. 2, Ward Consolidated Theaters,
Honolulu, 4:00 pm reception, 6:00 pm screening


A hui hou (until next time),

Leslie signature



“…It’s a Vision of the Mind and Heart”

The second story of PBS Hawaii's NEW HOME is being built atop an existing building, with this new top floor over parking.

The second story of PBS Hawaii’s NEW HOME is being built atop an existing building, with this new top floor extending over parking.


Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiFor the first time in my life, I enjoy having to stop in traffic for a red light – but only the one at Nimitz Highway and Sand Island Access Road.


Near this traffic intersection that’s home to a huge monkey pod tree, a two-story building continues to emerge, one in which more than a thousand Hawaii residents have invested.


PBS Hawaii’s new location, The Clarence T.C. Ching Campus, is a welcome bricks-and-mortar sight for our Board of Directors, Community Advisory Council, and Staff. More than that, it’s a vision of the mind and heart.


What we see is the promise of collaborative space that will allow us to create and deepen programmatic partnerships with other nonprofits, educators, filmmakers and other artists, businesses, labor and government. We see live televised events enlivening the industrial district with music and capturing meaningful debates on timely issues. We see teachers and students as frequent visitors – physically and virtually – as they take part in workshops in media literacy, journalism and video production. We see our suite of locally produced shows expanding as more media-makers are attracted to noncommercial PBS-style diverse viewpoints and trustworthy information.


I’m happy to report that construction, by Allied Builders System, is on budget and on time. We thank the Hawaii State Legislature for approving a $1 million grant this year for construction and First Hawaiian Bank Foundation for the largest corporate gift to date – $200,000.


What we see is the promise of collaborative space that will allow us to create and deepen programmatic partnerships…


We’re starting the home stretch, with $3.5 million to go to reach the $30 million goal. To all who have already made a gift of any size, thank you so much for sharing in this vision that is larger than all of us.


A hui hou (until next time),

Leslie signature



Thankful for a Beloved Feathered Friend


Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS Hawaii

You might think that Big Bird would make himself scarce at Thanksgiving time. After all, he could be mistaken for a holiday feast!


However, it was on a Thanksgiving Day that Big Bird was front and center in one of the most powerful programs that the groundbreaking series Sesame Street has ever produced.


The year was 1983. The broadcast aired during the first week of a new Sesame Street season–on the holiday, so that parents were home with their children to discuss the program.


Our tall feathered friend helped children to understand death and grief.


The episode was called “Farewell, Mr. Hooper.” Will Lee, the actor who played the gruff but good-hearted store owner, had died of a heart attack. They’d grown to love the grumpy grocer through his many chats with Big Bird, who came in to buy birdseed milkshakes.

Big Bird, Our Feathered Friend

The question for show producers was: How do we explain Mr. Hooper’s absence? Had he gone on vacation, never to be seen or mentioned again? Had he moved away?


No. Producers said they followed their instincts to “deal with [death] head-on.” First, they researched how preschoolers react to death. Experts advised them to stay away from how Mr. Hooper died and provide their young viewers with a sense of closure about Mr. Hooper’s passing.


Head writer Norman Stiles is quoted as saying: “We decided to say that while Mr. Hooper was not here anymore, we will always have that part of him that lives within the heart, that we have our love, and that it will always stay.”


The episode ends with a tearful Big Bird saying he’s going to miss Mr. Hooper and hanging Mr. Hooper’s picture near his nest. Then he leaves to see a new baby visiting the neighborhood.


Like many children’s shows scattered over the TV universe, Sesame Street entertains. And, like other PBS children’s shows, it has always done something deeper and lasting: it teaches.


So, at Thanksgiving, we at PBS Hawaii toast a dear, not-for-eating “big bird” who has brought new dimension to young lives!



Leslie signature