With president and CEO Sanford Inouye leading the way, ‘Ōlelo Community Media will continue sharing Hawai‘i’s diverse voices with its viewers for many years to come.
Sanford Inouye has been involved with community access programming in one way or another for quite some time now, and he’s got ‘Ōlelo Community Media to thank for that.
In the mid-1990s, his path led him to first engage with the local media company as staff attorney for the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ cable division.
“I got to work directly with the initial executive and management (teams) at ‘Ōlelo, and we also started to help develop the neighbor island community access organizations,” he recalls.
So, it’s fitting to say that Inouye’s appointment to president and CEO of ‘Ōlelo nearly five years ago has brought the Kaimukī grad full circle.
Prior to taking the helm at ‘Ōlelo, he spent a handful of years on the West Coast working for cable companies like AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable Communications, focusing his efforts on governmental affairs.
“I got to meet a lot of different people — elected officials from city, county, state and federal,” he says. “But my favorite piece was getting to work with community organizations and getting to know what they do.”
Thus, when the opening at ‘Ōlelo came about, it was a no-brainer for him to apply.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to come back and give back,” he says.
‘Ōlelo, he adds, is a wide-reaching platform that allows individuals, businesses, nonprofits, governmental organizations and educational institutions to share their stories with the greater community.
“Without ‘Ōlelo, individuals wouldn’t have a voice to tell their stories on a platform that was created by Congress for the very purpose of having diversity of voices throughout the community,” he says.
To help people share their creative ideas in a video medium, ‘Ōlelo offers training programs and equipment borrowing at each of its six centers — Māpunapuna, Kaimukī High, King Intermediate, Leilehua High, Waipahu Intermediate and Nānākuli High & Intermediate — which are strategically located on the island for maximum accessibility.
“We give people a chance to express their views in a safe place,” Inouye explains.
In addition to its mainstay channels — 49, government; 53 and 54, public community programming; and 55, inspirational programming — the media company also does executive productions, PSAs and specialty programs, like Island Focus, which highlights leaders in the government, business, education and community sectors, as well as state Capitol-focused Live at the Legislature.
“It’s all local,” Inouye adds. “It’s what we call ‘hyper-local.'”
‘Ōlelo, though, does so much more than broadcast, and its main focus outside of producing is to ensure that the up-and-coming generation has what they need to succeed.
“Our children and our students are the future storytellers of Hawai‘i,” Inouye continues.
In line with its youth-focused mission, ‘Ōlelo has on its list of offerings the Youth Xchange video competition and its Junior Academy for Media, the latter of which is a project-based learning experience for O‘ahu students.
‘Ōlelo Community Media’s Youth Xchange video competition event is a staple among statewide youth programs and allows kids to harness their creativity to film and produce everything from mini documentaries to PSAs to industry-specific categories that run the gamut from The Value of Water (sponsored by Honolulu Board of Water Supply) to Creating Peace (sponsored by Rotary Club of Honolulu).
Now in its 18th year, Youth Xchange saw its judges sift through more than 900 entires in 15-plus categories from more than 2,000 students in elementary, middle/intermediate and high school divisions.
“When you see their imagination and creativity in terms of the message in video format, I am blown away,” adds Inouye. “It’s a great platform for students to be able to work together to create a message, showcase and be judged by the sponsors.”
Youth Xchange won’t be hosting a live awards banquet this year, but will still dole out finalist nominations and first-place honors during a virtual ceremony slated for 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 11, on channel 53. It’ll consist of three separate programs — elementary, middle/intermediate and high school categories — that will run consecutively. Additional airtimes will be at 7:30 a.m. May 12 and 17, and 1:30 p.m. May 18, all on channel 53.
‘Ōlelo celebrated its 30-year anniversary last year to much fanfare, but there’s so much more in store, to hear Inouye tell it. To stay relevant, he is tasked with making sure ‘Ōlelo keeps up with technological trends and viewing habits, as well as provides state-of-the-art training and resources for all of Hawai‘i’s storytellers.
“We want to make sure that we are around for the next 30 years, and how we do that is not complicated,” he adds.
“It’s simple. We need to provide value to the community and also garner support from the community to help us do this.”
For more information on all of ‘Ōlelo Community Media’s live streaming and on-demand video options, and a full schedule, visit olelo.org.
And keep up with all the Youth Xchange happenings at olelo.org/yxc2020.
Relevancy is of utmost importance to ‘Ōlelo Community Media, which is why it recently launched a free mobile app for iOS and Android.
“This is really new tech for ‘Ōlelo,” says president and CEO Sanford Inouye. “It gives people access to what we provide, and it also offers interaction on portable devices.”
The app gives consumers access to community happenings at their fingertips. “If there’s something going on at the state Legislature, like there’s a live hearing on a certain topic, the app will give you a message letting you know,” he adds.
The most popular feature, though, might be the app’s live traffic cameras. “People, they like to check traffic,” Inouye says with a laugh. “It’s on in the morning and afternoons.”
For more information, visit olelo.org/mobile.
KEEPING UP WITH COVID-19
‘Ōlelo Community Media is updating the public on the statewide effort to combat COVID-19 by streaming gavel-to-gavel “Senate Special Committee on COVID-19” and “House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness” meetings, as well as Live at the Legislature every week.
“The public can hear directly from policymakers and decision-makers,” explains president and CEO Sanford Inouye.
The special committee hearings don’t have set airtimes, but interested viewers can keep up-to-date with the schedule online at olelo.org. Live at the Legislature, meanwhile, airs at 8:30 a.m. Tuesdays on channel 49 and on the web.