While nothing can quite compare to the experience of attending the shows in person, most Hawaii residents will take in the competitions at this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival through their TV sets.
And this time, its fifth straight year as the exclusive broadcaster, KFVE-TV appears to be taking to heart the old saying that you can’t ever get too much of a good thing.
“One of the big things this year is that for the first time ever, we’ll be repeating each night’s performance the next day at 11 a.m. to help people out who can’t stay up for the entire night. It’s for those who truly love it and want to be able to watch it,” said John Fink, KFVE’s general manager.
Viewers will be able to tune in on 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.
Despite the addition of the re-broadcasts, the Honolulu station will not continue its coverage of the Wednesday evening Ho‘ike performances, which it included for the first time last year.
“Everybody always asks about Wednesday night,” Fink said. “Last year we were able to broadcast that, but ordinarily we don’t, and we want to be consistent. … We felt it important last year, because it was the 50th anniversary, to give people the opportunity to watch it. But, this year for the first time we’re doing the Merrie Monarch from the hana hou and running all the way until the conclusion each day.”
Response to KFVE’s coverage since the station took over the festival in 2010 has been overwhelming, he added.
“It’s been phenomenal. From the viewer interest — from the 250,000-plus people who watch a portion of it online from around the world, we had 125 countries tuning in last year, to the advertizers and marketing,” Fink said.
Longtime broadcast director Roland Yamamoto says that this year’s program will welcome back co-hosts Kimo Kahoano and Amy Kalili, as well as additional on-air talent including Billy V., Keahi Tucker and Pualani Kanahele. As in years past, viewers will get complete, high-definition coverage of the events, complete with backstage interviews and informed commentary.
Having been involved off and on in the coverage of the festival since it was first broadcast in 1981, Yamamoto says it has been rewarding to see the event grow in stature and appeal. It’s also been an education, with the various crew members learning and perfecting their coverage every year.
“As far as the process of creating the show, we’ve all gotten better over the years,” he said.
And when it comes to the biggest change he’s seen in covering the festival, Yamamoto said that high definition has afforded viewers a way to watch the hula in ways that couldn’t have been possible before.
“For television production, the equipment has really changed over the years. With digital and HD, we’ve been able to have that clearer picture with the widescreen aspect, which is more conducive to the choreography that goes on on the stage,” he said. “It just fits the screen better.”
This year’s broadcast will feature one brand-new technological improvement: Viewers will be able to tune their televisions to a secondary audio broadcast to get the performance introductions and narrations in Hawaiian, provided by University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Hawaiian language professor Hiapo Perreira.
For more information, visit http://www.k5thehometeam.com/.