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Looking Back At 30 Years Of ‘MidWeek’

Volume 1, Issue 1 of MidWeek

Volume 1, Issue 1 of MidWeek

July 18, 1984

That was the date of our first issue of MidWeek 30 years ago. When we started, we actually had a weekly competitor called Ohana Shopper. Honolulu magazine published an article about us going up against the behemoth daily newspapers, the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Said MidWeek likely wouldn’t be around after two years. I had started working for the company in May the same year we started MidWeek. It kind of makes me the guardian of the paper. But on this auspicious anniversary, instead of telling you what you already know about MidWeek, I’m going to share some things you likely don’t know.

First of all, one of the biggest reasons we’re still around is because of the leadership of our president Dennis Francis. Dennis was recognized by Editor & Publisher magazine as the 2013 Publisher of the Year. That’s huge when you consider all the national newspapers in the running. But in a time where newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, ours are thriving. Dennis will go down in Hawaii history as one of the most astute businessmen in the Islands. But here’s what you don’t know — he did it without a college degree. Now, kids, stay in school, but it goes to show you where hard work and street smarts can take you.

Here’s another thing you probably wouldn’t guess in a million years. Our editor-in-chief Don Chapman, a dyed-in-the-wool newspaperman, spent a year in a seminary wearing a black shirt and white collar. Those who know him and have worked with him probably just had a collective gasp, but it’s true. Ask him about it sometime. He’s also the world’s biggest Oregon Ducks fan. He literally has an Oregon outfit for 365 days of the year, or at least close to it.

Our senior editor and by-the-AP Stylebook copy editor, Terri Hefner, was an ex-waitress from Rhode Island. Like Dennis, she has no college degree, just on-the-job training.

That’s pretty amazing, as we consider both Terri and regional editor for the Islander community newspapers, Carol Chang, our in-house journalism professors. Carol, by the way, is the longest-serving staffer of our papers if you factor in that the Sun Press newspapers were the predecessor of MidWeek Islander. Carol has been with us since September 1984. With 21 years, Terri is the longest-serving staffer of MidWeek. Remember MidWeek TV Showcase? That was her baby.

Everybody loves our managing editor Yu Shing Ting (Makinano). She is one of the most dedicated people we know. When she gave birth to her first son, it was literally right after she left the MidWeek office for the day. She went to dinner, her water broke and that same night she delivered. With her second son, she went to the hospital but was on deadline for a cover story on Mark Dacascos before he was to become Hawaii Five-0‘s Wo Fat. Our IT manager Alan Stewart delivered a laptop to her hospital room and she filed the story just hours after going into surgery for a C-section. Coincidently, in the days following during her recovery, she had a prescheduled phone interview with Daniel Dae Kim for a Hawaii Five-0 cover story. By the way, that story won a Pa’i Award from Hawaii Publishers Association.

Our chief photographer Nathalie Walker, who is from France, possibly leads the healthiest lifestyle on the planet. She was vegan and practiced yoga long before it was fashionable. What you don’t know is she sings backup for her husband Mark’s Rock, Rhythm and Blues band, Tell Mama. She and the backup singers are known as The Ccinos.

We were the first publication to feature Bruno Mars (then known as Little Elvis Bruno Hernandez). He was on our cover again in 2010, just before he exploded into the superstar he is today. We also had Michelle Wie on our cover when she was a 12-year-old golf prodigy. Had actress Kelly Hu on after winning 1985 Miss Teen USA. Years later, she would co-star in the movie Scorpion King with Dwayne Johnson, who we had featured on our cover when he was a wrestler known as The Rock.

In our first cover story with Andy Bumatai, our then-editor, Vera Benedek, convinced founding MidWeek publisher Ken Berry to run a quote with the “F” word uncensored. That’s a collector’s copy if you still have one.

MidWeek was originally supposed to be called ThisWeek like our sister publication in Oregon (which went out of business years ago). Of course, a local tourist publication already had that name, so we went with something related to our Wednesday publication date. It was Wednesday because that’s when all the grocery food circulars started their sale prices for the week.

Columnist Jerry Coffee was the pilot who took the historic flyover photos of Russian weapons being amassed in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Of course, Jerry was also a seven-year POW at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.

Sgt. Gerald Orosco

Sgt. Gerald Orosco with his MidWeek in Iraq

Years after we had run a cover story on then-little-known local bail bondsman Duane “Dog” Chapman, he gave MidWeekthe world-exclusive story of his ordeal in a Mexican prison following his capture of serial rapist Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune. Dog had turned down huge national news coverage and interviews to give us the story — a gesture of appreciation for taking a chance and giving him his initial media exposure.

On the issue for MidWeek‘s 10th anniversary, we changed the name of the publication. The post office has strict regulations for this kind of thing, but allowed us to do it for the one occasion. On the cover for that issue we called it BirthDay.

MidWeek Mystery Shopper is the longest-running contest in the history of the state. Started it in the first issue and every week since for the last 30 years have given away thousands of dollars to thousands of shoppers of our advertisers.

In 2006, I received an email from a man whose son was serving in Kirkuk, Iraq, a hotbed of enemy activity at the time. His son’s name was Sgt. Gerald Orosco of U.S. Army Task Force Phantom, and he was a Pearl City boy. Sgt. Orosco and some of his fellow soldiers were asking family to send them copies of MidWeek so that they could see what was going on back in Oahu. I decided to do whatever it took to get them those copies and set it up as part of our weekly delivery run. Within a few weeks they were getting MidWeek every week. It was a small thing on our part, but I was later told by Orosco’s mother that it meant the world to Gerald and the other local soldiers in his unit. It brought them a piece of home.