The gray started showing up years ago. First, just a sprinkling around the ears. Then it headed north.
My friends tell me I should get a dye-job. But the truth is I've been waiting for this for years. I've always thought silver-haired anchormen were the coolest guys around.
After graduating from Waimea High School and UH Manoa, my first gig as a TV reporter was at Honolulu Hale, covering council meetings for a cable TV news program. Next up, an internship at KHON-TV, and finally an actual job as an associate producer at KGMB-TV: 7-bucks an hour to make phone calls, edit video, write short news clips, and fetch coffee for the anchors. My dream come true.
In fact, I wouldn't have left if my boss didn't make me.
The news director at the time refused to make me a full time reporter because of my accent - a local-haole, semi-pidgin, surfer staccato from Kauai. Who knew?
His solution: send me to the most non-Hawaii place in the country, Topeka, Kansas. My new station was literally in the middle of a cornfield.
For six months, I was a rookie reporter, covering tornados and grain prices. Then, the main anchor quit. And I was the only other on-air guy at the station. So they gave me a shot.
That's where I learned not to scratch myself, or cuss on air. My lesson in Anchoring 101.
After a few years in Kansas, I traded the farm fairs of Topeka for the drive-by shootings and national politics of Washington D.C., the country's 8th largest TV market.
On the day of the 9/11 attacks my station sent me downtown and I spent that miserable day calling in reports from the State Department, the White House, and from several hotels that had been emptied out because of bomb threats.
After that, I moved to a station in Baltimore and scored an overseas assignment to cover the 2004 Olympics, in Greece.
I must have eaten a hundred gyros that month, but I actually lost 10 pounds from walking miles everyday in the Athens heat.
After the games I had a few bites from New York, but my heart wasn't in it. East Coast surfers will tell you how good the waves get there, but don't believe them. The surf gets good about 3 days a year. Not enough for a surfer from Hawaii.
In the summer of 2005, I flew home to catch an incoming south swell, and dropped by my old station to see if there were any job openings. There was a spot for a reporter, and I took it.
Now it's much more meaningful to me to share the stories about my hometown communities. When I know my friends and family are watching there's an extra sense of pride in getting a story right, and being accurate and fair. And the work ethic of the KGMB9 gang makes it the best station I've ever worked at.
And about those gray hairs?
At least I have hair. My dad's as bald as a cue-ball.
Keahi Tucker is an Anchor for Hawaii News Now at 6, 6:30 and 10. He has been with KGMB9 since 2005.
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