No ticket? No problem. KFVE brings hula to your living room

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KFVE-TV is gearing up for its sixth year as the exclusive broadcaster of the Merrie Monarch Festival.


KFVE-TV is gearing up for its sixth year as the exclusive broadcaster of the Merrie Monarch Festival.

The coverage of the world’s premier hula event continues to be a hit with audiences in Hawaii and around the world, said John Fink, the station’s general manager. Such a big hit, in fact, that the station rarely tries to make any changes to the successful production it has built through the years.

“Our formula works very well,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful event, it really transcends us doing anything other than letting it play out live on stage.”

However, one recent change that didn’t work out will be reversed this year, according to longtime broadcast director Roland Yamamoto.

“We’re returning to what we did previously,” he said. “Last year, we tried doing without some of the interviews with the kumu hula and solo competitors. … It was about trying to make things go faster. But it’s kind of a balancing decision. You wish you can have everything. In one way, we want to move along quicker, but in another way, we want to have more depth to our coverage.”

After last year’s experiment, the festival’s leadership felt like it wanted to go back to providing more of the pre-recorded and edited interviews, he said.

“It’s designed to give viewers a better understanding and depth of the hula they’re about to see,” Yamamoto said. “The average viewer, and myself included, we just don’t understand a lot of it, even at a basic level. We want to give them that, the general, core meaning and background of the hula.”

One change made by the station will be retained, however, according to Fink. Last year, KFVE began offering for the first time replays of each day’s events the next morning, to provide people who might have missed the live show with a complete airing.

“The next-day repeats have been received very well,” Fink said. “We have people watching it for the first time, and people who may have missed some of it. Even some of the halau performing get to watch it over the next morning.”

The replays will remain this year, with viewers able to tune in Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings to view complete airings of the previous evenings’ festivities, including Thursday’s individual Miss Aloha Hula competition, Friday’s group hula kahiko and Saturday’s group hula ‘auana and awards.

As for the hosting duties this year, there are a few changes being made to the roster. Host Kimo Kahoano will return, but Amy Kalili will sit this year out. Meanwhile, additional on-air talent Keahi Tucker and Billy V will return. Pualani Kanahele retired from the show, Yamamoto said.

“She’s been thinking about it for a few years,” he explained.

Kumu hula Cy Bridges, a former judge for the Merrie Monarch competitions, and kumu hula Maelia Loebenstein Carter, winner of Miss Aloha Hula in 1997, will join the team of commentators.

The festival has a long history on television, first being broadcast in 1981, Yamamoto said, and KFVE’s broadcast team has been going since 2010, allowing viewers to benefit from years of experience bringing the beauty and excitement of the competition to their living rooms.

The secret, he said, is simple: “It’s all about hula, all about what the kumu hula and the dancers bring to the stage. We’re just the mirror of that, so other people can watch. That’s our mission, to show that in its authentic, respectful and true vision, as much as we can.”


KFVE-TV Merrie Monarch Festival Coverage


8-9 p.m.: Merrie Monarch: Backstage Live!


6 p.m.-12:05 a.m.: Live from Hilo: Miss Aloha Hula


11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Thursday encore, Miss Aloha Hula

6 p.m.-12:30 a.m.: Live from Hilo: Kahiko


11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Friday encore, Kahiko

6 p.m.-1:05 a.m.: Live from Hilo: ‘Auana


11 a.m.-6 p.m.: Saturday encore, ‘Auana


Sunday, April 10

8-9 p.m.: Best of Merrie Monarch

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