Not The Norm For A Radio Guy

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - July 22, 2009

The resignations of the Bishop Estate trustees was the year’s top story. The terrible Xerox shootings and a conviction in a notorious Big Island case were top of mind, too. You might recall the tragedy at Sacred Falls and a shootout at a Kahala bank. As of matter of fact, our sister publication, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, not only reported the news, but became the news. When the public learned the Star-Bulletin was on the brink of shutting down, the community rallied to ensure we had the benefit of a strong news and editorial voice.

The year was 1999.

It was the same year I received a lunch invitation. It came from MidWeek editor Don Chapman.

I knew more of Don than actually knowing Don. Our common passion is golf. We had run into each other from time to time at golfing events and shared some pleasantries. The last time I saw Don before our lunch was at a charitable golf event on the Big Island. My beautiful wife and I were boarding the shuttle over to Mauna Kea and I spotted a brutally handsome and well-dressed golfer sitting in the back row. In my most professional broadcast voice I said, “Norm! How ya doin’!”

It would have been a wonderful beginning to a wonderful conversation if only the man’s name wasn’t Norm.

“Uh, I’m Don. Don Chapman. Hi Rick.”

Grin disappears.

Sheepish expression takes over. I exit, gracefully, stage left.

I met Don at Indigo for our lunch and I kept telling myself, “Whatever you do, don’t call the man Norm!”

I didn’t, and Don was a gracious host. Our conversation went from golf, to family, to the radio show and, of course, the newspaper business. I love talking newspaper. There’s such a different vibe between print and broadcast. Print conjures up images of Smith-Corona typewriters, the smell of the presses and a bottle of whiskey in the top left drawer.

My contribution to our discussion was to share some broadcast experiences. In 1999, my radio program, The Rick Hamada Experience, was a couple of years old. I was in the middle of some of the biggest stories and interviewed even bigger newsmakers. But I also delivered a conservative viewpoint in the most liberal town around. I often felt like a pair of brown shoes in a tuxedo. Although we may disagree on some issues, Don offered me the opportunity to contribute to the increasingly popular MidWeek as a columnist. I remember being so excited, I may have actually called him Norm when I enthusiastically accepted and shook his hand.

My first column extolled the virtues of the Catholic Church program “Engaged Encounter,” a mandatory exercise for couples who are to be married in the church. I wrote of our experience and how I believed it would be of great value that couples contemplating marriage should participate.

And so it began.

I have written more than 500 columns for MidWeek. Each one begins with a blank Word document and a blinking cursor. I select my topics based on my own reaction to a story. If I have a visceral response then perhaps you will, too. Politics is a dominant theme in my columns. The reason is that politics affects our lives every day, whether we want it to or not.

Curiously, of the hundreds of submissions, the one that generated the most response was the search for the perfect Bloody Mary. Although published years ago, I’ll still get suggestions. Of course, I am still researching this very important issue.

I am blessed to be a part of the MidWeek family and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you each week. It is rare to have a local media outlet that provides a forum for truly differing viewpoints. I am especially thankful for the incredibly talented professionals who put Hawaii’s most-read publication to bed week after week after week. MidWeek‘s success is a testament to their dedication (with special thanks to Terri and Linda).

Finally, I can’t thank Don Chapman enough for taking a chance on a radio guy to become a newspaper guy. His support is invaluable and is deeply appreciated.

I know one this is for sure. After a decade of writing for Don, it’s a pretty good bet I won’t be calling him Norm.

Happy 25th, MidWeek!

Here’s to 25 more and beyond.

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