Don’t Let The Blue Eyes Fool You

It’s hard to believe, but some viewers criticize Keahi Tucker for being too Caucasian. Then there are fans who’d love to see him without his clothes on

Friday - September 15, 2006

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On the KGMB set with Guy Hagi, Kim Gennaula and Liz Chun
On the KGMB set with Guy Hagi, Kim Gennaula and Liz Chun

Don’t let the blue eyes fool you - this local boy from Kauai knows his fair share of the Hawaiian language, has been surfing since he was 8, can bust out some pidgin if he wants to and says nothing is more ono than a good Hawaiian plate.

Keahi Tucker explains that there are still people who write or comment about him as evening co-anchor on KGMB about being too haole or seeming too Mainland. All of which Tucker looks at as pretty lucky considering how critical people can be. He shrugs it off as part of the job.

“Whatever, that’s minor,” says Tucker. “I can take that. I know I’m from Kauai and I can bust out some pidgin if I want. But it gets worse than that, people will start picking on appearance and stuff you have no control over and it just gets mean.

“Anyone who is in this business has to have thick skin to take the jabs.”

But with the jabs do come the compliments, and Tucker has been known to receive a handful of his own. On one radio station polling listeners on which newscaster they would like to see naked - Keahi came in No. 1.

However, much as he does with the criticism, Keahi doesn’t spend much time focusing on the praise - and instead striving to better himself in the only career he has ever loved - broadcast journalism.

KGMB’s newest addition to its evening news team, Tucker sits side-by-side with Kim Gennaula, Guy Hagi and Liz Chun - all of whom he considers great friends.

“I’m not even just saying this, this is totally true - Channel 9, the KGMB crew are top and are so much better than anywhere else I’ve worked in terms of caring for the news, double-checking stories and trying so hard to get it right every single day,” says Tucker. “And in the newsroom culture, just getting along and people actually liking each other and hanging out together - there’s a real positive feeling in the newsroom and it’s such a great place to go to work every day.”

He’s no Andy Irons, but Tucker loves his surfing
He’s no Andy Irons, but Tucker loves his surfing

His journey to the KGMB anchor seat wasn’t always smooth sailing, but it’s a place that the 31-year-old says that he always wanted to be.

Ironically as a child, Keahi remembers not having TV, so he spent most of his bike-riding days in the cane fields or reading countless issues of National Geographic. This is where an interest in journalism sparked - as he wanted to be the one writing the interesting stories he read. Soon thereafter Tucker moved to the west side of Kauai to attend Waimea High School, and there he remembers going to his friends’ houses to watch TV news - and it stuck.

Tucker also remembers getting picked on because he was different.

“I had a pretty normal childhood for a haole kid from Kauai,” says Tucker. “I wasn’t the oddball, but definitely the minority. Any haole who grew up on Kauai can pretty much tell you that there’s some rough spots, but in the grand scheme of things, nothing too major. It kind of makes you tougher in the end.”

Tucker went on to attend UH-Manoa to major in broadcast journalism and was quick to see just how tough the television news industry can be. Even with a journalism degree, internship experience at Channel 2 and work experience at the UH radio station and at Channel 9 - Tucker could not get a job as a full-time reporter.

“I was pretty much forced to move to the Mainland and even there I had the hardest time getting a job,” says Tucker. “I actually got rejected like 30 times from different small markets all over the place - no one would hire me. So my news director actually had to hook me up with a job at his old station in Topeka, which is like the opposite end of the world from Hawaii culturally.”

Soon enough Tucker’s dry spell ended - six months after he arrived in Kansas as a rookie reporter, the station’s 19-year anchor retired - and at the age of 23 Keahi moved into the main anchor seat at the NBC affiliate.

“I could read the news as best I could, but there’s so much more about being an anchor in terms of leadership and I wasn’t ready,” admits Tucker. “There were some growing pains, but it was a valuable time for me.”

Tucker might have stayed in Kansas if it weren’t for his girlfriend back in

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