The Way We Watched

Television was black and white—and live. Christmas specials from the Mainland were on when fireworks were banging in the New Year. Forget about NFL games or live sports by satellite. Welcome to the early days of local television.

The year was 1964 and, surrounded by delegates on the floor, Channel 4 news photographer Joe Konno (holding camera) captured the action of the Republican Convention in San Francisco.  Protestors marched outside the Cow Palace.  War was brewing in Vietnam. Native son Hiram Fong received five delegate votes for president.  Conservative Barry Goldwater took the party nomination, beating moderate Nelson Rockefeller, but would lose to Lyndon Johnson, who won 44 of 50 states, in one of the nation’s most top-sided presidential races.

Television in Hawaii was indeed in its infancy when former Maui News photographer Joe F. Konno joined Channel 4 in 1953, a year before it went on the air.  Six years later and two months after statehood, Konno and news anchor John Galbraith would make television history on Oct. 15, 1959 at 6 p.m.

That evening, Hawaii viewers tuned in to KHVH-TV Kaiser Television to see the state’s first early evening news, featuring another first—same-day location news coverage.  (All three Hawai‘i stations, Channels 2, 4 and 9, had 10 o’clock local news, featuring network footage and previous day local footage.)

It’s hard to imagine today, when live on-location news at 6 and round-the-clock CNN are taken for granted. Back then, it was no small feat. Portable video cameras did not exist and video technology was too costly. Now 87 and long retired, Konno rushed out every day with a 16mm film camera and had to stop shooting by 2 p.m. to process and edit the footage to make the six o’ clock news. None of the live newscasts featuring his film footage exists.

But Konno, who picked up his first camera at age 12 in his hometown of Kahului, Maui, always took along, out of habit, his trusty still camera. The photos shown in the slideshow below, decades in storage, capture us coming of age as the new 50th state in the television age.

 View the slideshow below, for more photos and history on Hawaii’s television past: