Feb. 3—When Larry Ordonez heard the news that television station KIKU’s popular Japanese and Filipino programs would be restored, he said he was both surprised and excited. Ordonez, president of Ethnic Education Hawaii, which works to ensure local programming is broadcast in various languages, said many immigrants and those with limited English proficiency in Hawaii missed that connection to their cultures after the shows went off the air last year.
“They missed the programs. They missed the news that KIKU used to carry, ” he said. “There was a gap.”
In a press release Tuesday, KITV4 announced that its parent company, Allen Media Broadcasting, owned by Byron Allen, had purchased KIKU and planned to restore the station’s popular Japanese and Filipino programming.
KIKU-TV had announced last year that its then-owner RNN Media Group, headquartered in New York, had made the decision to replace the station’s cultural programs with ShopHQ, a home-shopping network, beginning June 2021. The move sparked fierce criticism and disappointment from many community members and KIKU watchers. A petition that garnered more than 100 signatures was also launched to protest the decision.
Jason Hagiwara, president and general manager of KITV and KIKU, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that KIKU was officially back on the air Monday. He said core shows, such as “Soko Ga Japan ” and “Kuku Kuku Japan, ” would resume and that “about 75 % of the programs that viewers loved are returning on KIKU.”
“Our owner is really interested in growing his media profile to serve Hawaii’s local audience and appetite for programming. KIKU was a strategic purchase to connect even further with Hawaii audiences, ” Hagiwara said. “The reaction that we’ve gotten from people has been overwhelmingly reassuring that this was a great decision that we made to bring KIKU’s Japanese and Filipino programming back to Hawaii.”
He said that they are also looking to build partnerships with other producers and directors to add more local and Hawaiian shows, as well as create their own programming.
Howard Ishizuka, a longtime KIKU viewer who had penned a letter to the editor protesting RNN Media’s decision last year, said he was elated and in shock when he first heard that the station would be returning. He said his wife loves watching “Soko Ga Japan, ” “Mystery Theatre ” and “Partners, ” while he enjoys “Tokyo Boys.”
Growing up watching many popular Japanese shows with family, Ishizuka had said last year that KIKU going off air felt “like losing a good friend.” Now that it’s back, he said he’s been telling all of his friends and family to tune back in.
“It’s a dream come true kind of thing, ” Ishizuka said. “I felt bad for the elderly folks because they were really sad (when KIKU went off the air ). My main thing is I’m happy that it’s back.”
Ordonez, host of “Filipino Radio ” on KNDI-AM and who emigrated from Ilocos Sur in the Philippines to Hawaii more than 50 years ago, added that KIKU’s multicultural programming represents more than just entertainment to many people in the islands.
“When you show (these cultural programs ), we can relate to it. They feel at home. And when people feel at home, they become more productive, ” he said. “Connection to language, culture and values are all important components of their identity.”
For more information on KITV and KIKU’s programming schedule, go to.——Jayna Omaye covers ethnic and cultural affairs and is a corps member of Report for America, a national serv ice organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under covered issues and communities.