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Sunday, March 9, 2014
What’s Cooking with Pamela and Gary?
By Susan Sunderland
Whats cooking with Gary Sprinkle and Pamela Young, now that theyve increased their face time on KITV4 Island Television News? Will they stir the pot of TV ratings as fickle viewers surf the channels? Will their mixed plate of intellect, good looks and communications skills be the enduring recipe of success in a rapidly changing industry?
We sat down over a lunch prepared by Young, a gourmet cook, at their home to chat about the couples enhanced news roles and the path they took to get there.
When youre served a delicious filet of fish on a crisp rice cake, complemented by fresh asparagus and homemade cranberry chutney topped by star-fruit, and presented so artistically, its hard to concentrate on an interview. But we endured. Is there more wine?
Savor the conversation with TVs dynamic duo and see if you dont agree that their best days are ahead of them.
Sprinkle and Young, each with more than 30 years of experience in the business, provide interesting insights into the magic and mystique of television news.
This is the scoop from Mr. & Mrs. Broadcast News.
Interestingly, Sprinkle and Young dont define their jobs as news anchors.
We are journalists, says Young. We are reporters, producers, editors, and we also happen to anchor the news.
Sprinkle, her husband of 23 years, elaborates, The greater part of our day is spent helping to gather the news and doing our own stories - were responsible for certain blocks of our newscast. We work with the producer to put together a show ... deciding the order of the newscast so theres some sort of rhythm to it. We also have serious discussions about story content. At about 3 oclock, we put on our anchor hats.
Were a little different from most anchors in that, before we are anchors, we are field producers, Sprinkle says, referring to his Pacific Adventures series and Youngs Mixed Plate features.
There are not too many anchors who gather, write, produce and edit the news themselves, he says.
This speaks to the versatility of the pair that has resulted in 14 Emmy awards and makes them sought-after talent in the TV market.
But dont get the wrong idea. Theres a supporting cast of many others on KITV4.
General manager Mike Rosenberg says there are 43 people on the TV news staff, one of the largest in town.
The lions share of the newscast is done by our reporting staff and producers, he says. Gary and Pamela are the type of anchors who like to be involved in the process.
As Young puts it, There are anchors who come in, read the news and go home. It differs from market to market, and station to station.
With the departure of Kim Gennaula (wife of Guy Hagi) from KGMB, it makes Sprinkle
and Young the towns only husband-and-wife news team on TV.
There are married couples in the news biz, but not too many anchor together, Young says. Station managements try to stay away from it because relationships can break up and theres no guarantee that a married couple will have chemistry on the air.
Observers say Sprinkle and Young have chemistry and complement each other. Anchors can be competitive by nature, vying for face time.
Sprinkle asserts, I want to make Pamela look good.
Love in the Time of Kokua
The pair might not have even become a pair if first impressions are any indication.
We really didnt like each other at first, Young recalls.
Plus their early career aspirations were on completely different tracks.
Sprinkle wanted to be a professional athlete. That didnt happen, but he got into sports casting.
Bob Sevey hired me as a sportscaster in 1978, Sprinkle says, and I did that for eight years at KGMB. When he left, the station wanted me to anchor the news at 5 and 10.
Like a Burns-and-Allen routine, Young polishes off his statement.
But before that, tell her about your dad and how he was the one to bring Sevey here to begin with, she says.
Sprinkle responds, My father, Art Sprinkle, used to be station manager for KULA (later KHVH, KONA, KHON). When asked if he knew of someone for the KGMB job, he suggested Bob Sevey who was working in Phoenix.
Sevey went on to become Hawaiis best-known TV news anchor with more than
20 years on the air here.
For Young, TV broadcasting was not her original career choice. The Kalani High School graduate was going to be a classical dancer. She has a BA and MBA in dance from San Francisco State.
But I still have to tap dance occasionally, she says in jest, noting how her profession went from doing pirouettes to pushing deadlines.
She entered the news field when she auditioned for a reporters job at KPIX-TV in San Francisco. It was a pioneering effort in many respects. At the time, there were no women role models in TV. Plus she didnt have a degree in broadcast. She was Asian and female.
But she overcame those stereotypes and broke into the TV news in 1974.
She met Sprinkle in 1983 while working on a China documentary needing the use of KGMBs editing facilities.
I thought he was a jock; Im not that easy, Young recounts.
After failed attempts to get a date, Sprinkle succumbed to that local trick that always brings people together. He bought Young a mixed plate lunch and started friendly conversation.
They dated for two years and were married in 1985.
With Two You Get Payroll
Former KHON and KITV news director Wally Zimmerman, now senior vice president at Bright Light Marketing, is responsible for the Sprinkle-Young pairing as anchors.
Theres no tension between them, he says of the duo. The experience and knowledge they bring to the newscast, plus their individual styles, give them wide appeal.
But its not anything that I did that nurtured their popularity, Zimmerman states. The viewer holds the power to that. They vote with their remote control and can turn you off in an instant.
Fortunately for Sprinkle and Young, viewers have not left the dial, particularly for KITVs Island Television News at 5. It consistently ranks No. 1 in Honolulu Nielsens for its time slot.
A month into the new format, Sprinkle and Young say they are energized by the change and the challenge of distinguishing their 6 oclock newscast.
Its like a quarterback in football, Young says, They have to build a show around what our strengths are.
That applies to both content and pacing.
And theres something else they now want to achieve.
Serving the public good is the most gratifying part of their jobs, both say.
Young explains, Were not interested in face time. We really want to be useful and conduct our business in an ego-less way. We are blessed with opportunities, and with that, comes responsibility.
Sprinkle adds, We can be a messenger for the greater good, whether its doing things to help our island state or a state of mind. I like the idea that we might have a hand in something good that matters.
Their confidence in building a news franchise is backed by what they claim is the most experienced TV crew in the Islands.
We have a deep bench, Young says, referring to KITVs team of reporters, cameramen and producers. When we need to pull together, particularly in a statewide emergency, everyone knows exactly what to do.
She and Sprinkle recall operating in blackout conditions three years ago during a hurricane. For more than 11 hours, the KITV anchors were live, doing a nonstop bare-bones broadcast.
In a disaster you cease to become a television station. You become a public utility,
Sprinkle says. And CNN took our words worldwide.
Film at 5 and 6
But its not getting any easier, they claim. Acknowledging industry cutbacks and profit margin challenges, they are having to do more with less.
You can do only as many stories as you have people, Sprinkle says. Its only because we have so many veterans here that were able to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
And in years to come, Pamela and I will likely be replaced by a couple of potted plants, he speculates.
People wont have to come home to see the news, he says, noting that advanced electronics already delivers the news in many forms - phones, Internet, satellite TV - so there will be news available 24 hours a day with a menu to customize individual choices.
Meanwhile, the ever-changing TV news scene continues to evolve and fascinate viewers. Its a subjective choice whom one watches each day, and Sprinkle-Young know they can only be themselves and hope it clicks with viewers.
Like their marriage, they say, this requires giving each other the respect and space to be a team as well as individuals.
Off the camera, theyre a typical Island couple who enjoys the comforts of their Mariner Ridge residence and traveling around the world. Youngs a gourmet cook, sews, and keeps fit with kickboxing and tai chi. Sprinkles an ocean sports guy and avid golfer, who tests his 8-12 handicap on the Oahu Country Club links every week.
The couple sponsors a scholarship, giving generously each year to cover the tuition of five faculty-selected Kapiolani Community College culinary arts students.
Even while facing health issues this summer - Young overcoming a breast cancer episode and Sprinkle with knee surgery - both are fully committed to work and community involvements.
If thats not enough to keep them up at night, the 14 Emmy statuettes,
a Peabody, a Teddy and 28 Society of Professional Journalists awards that line
their bookshelf should be ample reminders that youre only as good as your