Honolulu Stations Stay Up All Night with Live Tsunami Coverage

By Andrew Gauthier 

Stations in Honolulu have essentially become 24-hour news channels as the islands of Hawaii are threatened by a tsunami stemming from Friday’s earthquake off the coast of Japan.

ABC-affiliate KITV, CBS-affiliate KGMB, and NBC-affiliate KHNL all extended coverage from their late local newscasts to provide constant live coverage of the tsunami, including a news conference with the director for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Chip McCreery, who warned of the destruction that a looming tsunami could cause.

The recent shared services agreement between KGMB and KHNL was evident throughout the night as the stations’ news coverage emanated from the same anchor desk with the Hawaii News Now duo of Stephanie Lum and Keahi Tucker (left), along with meteorologists Ben Gutierrez and Dan Cooke. Lum and Tucker powered through the night together.


“This is exciting,” Tucker said early on in the night. “I wouldn’t be up at 1:30 if it wasn’t exciting.” Lum, Tucker, and Gutierrez handed it off to the morning team at 5:00 a.m.  Lum told anchors Steve Uyehara and Tannya Joaquin that they had stuffed the desk with snacks for them.

KITV’s overnight coverage was anchored by Paul Drewes, who typically helms the station’s weekend morning newscast. An AMS-certified meteorologist, Drewes was uniquely qualified to cover the approaching tsunami. He was joined at the anchor desk by Mahealani Richardson at the beginning of the overnight broadcast and by Paula Akana, who anchor’s the station’s 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts, around 2:00 a.m.

Drewes and Akana spent most of the early morning counting down to 3:07 a.m., the time that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the first tsunami waves would crash on Hawaii’s shores. At 3:20, over a shot of a calm shoreline, Drewes said, “Of course, tsunamis aren’t always on time.”

At 5:00 a.m., Drewes and Akana signed off as Richardson returned along with her regular morning co-anchor Kenny Choi.

Both Hawaii News Now and KITV provided live streaming video of their broadcasts online.