Rick Blangiardi

Photo from Darlene Lee

Hawaii News Now general manager Rick Blangiardi spearheads the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, taking place Aug. 10 at Kapiolani Park this year. The walk is marking its 20th year, and Blangiardi is happy to be a part of it.

“I like what they stand for, which is trying to promote healthier lives, and they do research on cardiovascular diseases,” he explains. “You get to a point in life where you have friends who have had heart attacks and heart surgeries. You become mindful of these things.”

According to Blangiardi, the walk is expected to have 4,000 participants. He’s always had a soft spot for nonprofit organizations such as the American Heart Association.

“When you look at the kind of work they do and the people they help, I don’t know what this place would be like if we didn’t have them,” he says. “Hawaii is great like that. We live in such a giving place. It’s different across the ocean.”

Blangiardi was featured on MidWeek‘s cover Feb. 18, 1987, during the time of KHNL.

“It was in that era that we created the notion of independent television,” he says. “We brought UH sports to television, and the industry was starting to change a little bit from the standpoint of technological and satellite capabilities.”

Blangiardi’s heart has always been in Hawaii, even when he left the Islands in October of 1989 to go to the Mainland after he was offered a job in Seattle. In fact, he would make trips back to Hawaii every year.

During his 13 years on the Mainland, Blangiardi worked in Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. At the end of his Mainland adventures, he became president of Telemundo, which was sold in 2002.

The sale of Telemundo, an American Spanish-language broadcast television network, gave Blangiardi options in life, and he decided to return to Oahu.

“I could pick where I wanted to wake up in the morning,” he says. “I wanted to come back home to try to make a difference.”

Now, as the GM for Hawaii News Now, Blangiardi deals with the challenges broadcast has to offer.

“We work with a lot of nonprofits here,” he says. “Our cup runneth over. It’s my belief system, but it’s also part of our responsibility as broadcasters, and the voice we have not just on air but also online and digitally.

“Given the robust nature of our online platforms, we know we can touch a lot of people. There’s an old adage that if you do good, you’ll do well, and we try to do a lot of good around here.”

The 20th annual Oahu Heart Walk takes place at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 10 at Kapiolani Park. Walkers will enjoy a 4.5-mile path around Diamond Head and a 1-mile route around Kapiolani Park. Visit oahuheartwalk.org for more information.