Hawaii's first TV news anchorman Wayne Collins visits KGMB

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Before the Bob Sevey era in local television, a radio news director named Wayne Collins became Hawaii's first TV news anchorman in 1953.

Collins quit broadcasting in 1966 and left the islands in 1972, but we recently had a chance to speak with the man Bob Sevey called the best news anchor he'd ever seen anywhere.

On vacation in Hawaii last month, Collins was given a tour of the old KGMB building on Kapiolani Boulevard. He was joined by Ted Shibuya, who was the station's first news cameraman. General Manager Rick Blangiardi was their guide.

Collins spent a lot of time in the now abandoned TV studio as the state's first anchorman.

That first daily news program was sponsored by Pan American World airways. It was 15 minutes long and Collins did the whole show without a written script in front of him.

"When you're following the news all day long, day after day, week after week, month after month," Collins explains, "every day you're reading the newspaper and the AP wires, you know the background of all the stories, so if all of a sudden there's an important story--local, national, world, whatever, and there's just one paragraph that comes across in a bulletin, you already know the whole background of that story, so you can sit down and talk about it whether you're sitting down talking to one friend or a whole bunch of friends. So we didn't need a script. Since it was only a one man show, I didn't have to worry about providing anything but visual cues for the guys in the control room when I wanted them to roll the film. They didn't even know what I was going to talk about to begin with, so even if there was a last minute bulletin that came in just before I went on the air, I could still open the show with that because it wouldn't dismay anyone in the control room who didn't know what I was going to say, anyway.

"We made a very simple light cue out of a couple of tin cans and two pieces of two by fours. I could push against the two by fours under the desk. That made a little light flash in the control room to roll the film. And the director had on one piece of paper just a list of the film clips that we would be using, what the end cue would be or if it was a silent clip, how long it would last. And I would narrate live off camera."

Station management thought the seventy-seven year old Collins looked too young so they made him wear glasses on the air even though his vision was just fine.

"The first pair of glasses that I wore," Collins remembers, "when we did the first television news program, just had plain glass in them, but that reflected on the camera. so we just used spectacle frames without any glasses in them."  

Collins edited one-day old CBS news film from the mainland for part of the newscast. But he and cameraman Ted Shibuya covered local news on their own.

"Ted had all the cameras set up in the trunk of his car," Collins says, "and we'd go out and film the stories.  We processed the film right at KGMB and I edited it in the afternoon and we were ready to do the early evening newscast and the ten o'clock newscast.  It worked. It was fun. We were involved in every stage of the preparation of the show."

After television Collins went on to a whole different career. he helped start Oceanic Institute and Sea Life Park and later he started the Marine Research department at the University of Arizona where he worked until his retirement 20 years ago.

But once a newsman, always a newsman.

"I read every morning newspapers from Washington, D.C. New York City, Phoenix, Tucson, the Honolulu star-Advertiser, the West Hawaii Newspaper, the Hilo Herald, and that wonderful news blog, the Hawaii Reporter," Collins confesses. "It's a life long habit, I just can't break."

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