Longtime Hawaii journalist, sportscaster Robert Kekaula dies at age 56

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Published: Jun. 19, 2021 at 12:40 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Robert Kekaula, a longtime journalist and sportscaster in Hawaii, died Saturday morning surrounded by his family.

Kekaula passed away at 8:25 a.m., according to family members.

In a statement his family said:

“We have heavy hearts this morning as our ‘ohana has lost its mighty wings. He lived his life his own way and was so much to so many people. His heart was full of love for his family, sports and most of all music. Our wings are broken but we will fly again one day. And Robert will fly beside us and continue to guide us along the way. Mahalo to everyone who touched his life along this journey. Aloha ‘Oe to our father, partner, brother, uncle and friend. We ask for privacy as we get through this difficult time.”

The exact cause of his death is unknown at this time.

A legend in Hawaii sports media, Kekaula started his first job in broadcast journalism in 1987 at KGMB as a weekend sports producer.

In 1989, he joined KITV as a weekend sports anchor and reporter. He later left the station for KHNL in 1994, and returned to KITV in 1997 to work as sports director.

Kekaula most recently worked as a Managing Editor at KITV.

Members of the sports community shared their sadness and condolences on social media following the news.

“We lost a juggernaut in the industry today,” said Kanoa Leahey, a Spectrum Sports Play-By-Play announcer.

“I had the privilege of working with Robert when I first started out. My first TV sport reporter job, Robert was the sports director and he took me under his wings and he showed me the ropes and the thing about him, was he was so unique, he was so original.”

Sports broadcaster Kanoa Leahey talks about his time working with Kekaula and the impact he had in Hawaii.

“Robert was truly a legend in sports broadcasting in the state of Hawaii and as the voice of University of Hawaii Football. He loved UH sports with a passion. He bled green and white,” said UH Athletics.

For years, Kekaula provided a play-by-play voice for University of Hawaii football games for Spectrum Sports.

When away from the world of sports and news, he loved Hawaiian music, he was a Hawaii Recording artist with three albums — “Kanak Attack”, “Daddy’s Little Girl”, and “‘Bout Every Day People” that were recorded under the great Tom Moffat’s label.

Kekaula also had his own production company called “A Guava Ding Thing”. Two releases from his recording label garnered multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Awards — He also produced his daughter Tiera’s solo releases.

He was especially close to groups like the Mana’o Company, Kapena and many of the groups of the 1990′s. 

Robert was also an actor on national television in shows like “The Byrds of Paradise” in 1994 for 8 episodes on NBC, 10 episodes of “North Shore” on FOX in 2004 and a short film called “The Fishing Club” along with Keali’i Reichel and others.

Robert has two children, daughter Tiera and son Shayde — Robert Kekaula was 56-years old

This story will be updated.

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