With a rare Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the Hawaiian Islands, KHON Honolulu got coverage help from owner Nexstar’s Washington bureau and stations in California, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The effort led to an outpouring of support from the community. “I’ve never in my life seen anything like it,” said Kristina Lockwood, KHON’s general manager.
When Hurricane Lane was approaching Hawaii on Tuesday, Aug. 21, residents were concerned and preparing for the worst. Category 5 hurricanes are rare in Hawaii, and the islands had not seen a major hurricane since Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992.
And forecast models had Lane headed directly for Oahu, the most populated of the islands.
So Nexstar, which owns KHON, the Fox affiliate in Honolulu, decided to send in additional resources to help the station with its coverage of the hurricane.
Two reporters with videographers and an additional news director were sent in Wednesday from Nexstar’s stations in San Francisco (KRON) and Fresno, Calif., (KSEE), plus two producers from Nexstar’s KLAS Las Vegas.
“The Nexstar support was such an integral part of our coverage,” said Kristina Lockwood, KHON’s general manager, “because we were able to cover the story from all angles and we had the extra resources that made it possible for us to do it.”
KHON went into live, continuous coverage on-air from 5 p.m. until 11:30 on Wednesday and then from 4:30 a.m. on Thursday until Friday night at 11:30 p.m., according to Lockwood.
“We started our coverage with multiple push alerts, Facebook Lives and livestreams on our website,” said Lockwood.
In addition to the local hurricane coverage, KHON also had reaction from state lawmakers in Washington, thanks to Nexstar’s bureau there.
“The good news is that the hurricane eventually downgraded and did turn,” said Lockwood.
“We had a huge number of app downloads during that three-day period,” added Lockwood. “I think we had 26,000 app downloads which is enormous over such a short period of time.”
Lockwood said viewers were incredibly grateful for the station’s coverage.
“I’ve never in my life seen anything like it,” said Lockwood.
I just wanted to send a huge MAHALO NUI to the entire KHON 2 news team! I’ve been streaming your storm coverage non-stop on Facebook live and have been so impressed with the quality of the coverage from top to bottom. Dr. Alison Nugent was definitely a highlight & a crowd favorite, but from the interviews to outer island updates to the briefings in conjunction with the professionalism and expertise from every one of your reporters and producers…we, as a community, feel so prepared and informed thanks to your commitment to sharing information with us in such a timely and thorough manner. Thank you, thank you, thank you for EVERYTHING! Please share our gratitude with your entire team! MAHALO!!!!!! — Michael
YOU GUYS ROCK! Thank you so much for “being there” for Hawaii. The live broadcast at this writing with Justin Cruz and Alison Nugent is TOP NOTCH. Your communication of scholarly information in layman terms is comforting and shows how much you care for our community. — Rick
Thank you KHON2 for going above and beyond for Hawaii. Although it looks like we dodged another bullet i am very thankful for the hours of information that you have provided to keep us aware of what is going on. Justin Cruz has proven to be so knowledgeable at a serious time. Kudos to whoever is leading at khon2. I’m done remote surfing, you have a faithful viewer household. — Floyd
“We literally received hundreds of emails, phone calls, and messages from viewers thanking us for all that we did to keep them informed and keep them safe,” Lockwood said.
Some viewers even showed up at the station with homemade leis to show their appreciation.
But just as the hurricane was moving away, there was another major story important to Hawaii residents taking place in Pennsylvania, the Little League World Series.
“Hawaii won so we had Nexstar’s station in Pennsylvania, WBRE, (the NBC affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) that covered it and helped us connect with the coach and the players and we were doing live talkbacks with them.”
So a serious threat from a hurricane ends just as the state’s Little League team wins the World Series, “which was a very positive thing,” said Lockwood.