- Started in Football Coaching in 30s
- Leadership found in sports/football
- The early pivot 1989 – Moving out Football coaching and into television production
- Leaving Telemundo 2011 allowed Rick to return to Hawaii and find alignment and serve Hawaii
- 2nd pivot – Work on Hawaii News Now
- Leading teams and building television production teams
Unknown Speaker 0:00
had immediate conference room with the lean town at the Hilton Hawaiian village. I tell them to bring their number twos and number threes. If they had, whoever was it was in charge of stuff about 35 or so I never really counted the exact number of showed up. And the tension in the room was palpable. You could feel it. I walked in and I pretty much laid out. You know what it was about? I want to tell them the book. Yeah, because here’s the deal. The night before, I’m watching Leslie Wilcox and run Mizutani on television.
Unknown Speaker 0:27
There’s so much to do.
Unknown Speaker 0:33
We just do local guys with so much to say,
Unknown Speaker 0:37
to the rudest.
Unknown Speaker 0:43
Hello, Ra aloha community. This is Lane Kawaoka. You guys probably recognize our guests here. And you’re probably thinking, what the heck are we doing interviewing Rick Benji RT. But here he is, we’re not going to really go into too much of the issues that are currently going on, like we do on the simple passive cash flow podcast, we get to know the people. And you know, whenever I’m going into deals, working with partners, we never know what’s going to happen in the future. And therefore, I want to know the context of the person. So we’re gonna kind of get to know Rick a little bit better. And yeah, thanks for coming on, Rick, really appreciate it. Welcome way. I know this is a little wild card and your schedule here. But yeah, let’s see what we can do to make the most of it. And we’re reaching up a bunch of folks like myself, who typically don’t follow and don’t care.
Unknown Speaker 1:33
That’s even new to me, to be honest with you, when you say something like that, because I’ve not been a career politician. I find it interesting generationally, where people are at and and, honestly, you know, quite I mean, you know, you would be your generation, I would think would be the most active more so because there’s so much at stake. But I find that interesting. I mean, I don’t know where the I don’t care comes from, but you know, because because, you know, I would tell you in my short time now of making this decision. This a lot a lot to be said for who’s in power, and who has positions of authority. It sounds so I don’t, I’m not, I’m not that power monger. But you know what I’m saying when you have the authority, you can make things happen. There’s a lot of responsibility with that as well.
Unknown Speaker 2:22
Let’s kind of dive right into here. And, you know, this is that Han Solo moment question that made you think of Star Wars. So yeah, those of you guys who haven’t heard of this question before, it’s, you know, Han Solo and his buddy Chewbacca from Star Wars cruise in the galaxy, as low life smugglers. And then cross paths Luke and Leia and they went off on a little adventure. You probably have a few of these, what we call bridges. I was watching another podcast with Coach K at JJ Redick from Duke. And he calls these bridges. But take us to one of earlier bridges and just give us a little context of yourself.
Unknown Speaker 2:57
Okay, yeah. And there have been several of my life. And I’ve thought about that, in fact, when it comes to those Crossroads just an outcome to your question. I learned a long time ago, I don’t even know who the source is for the attribution. But it was said to me, once before, it was moments that, you know, the purpose of all education is to do the things that we’re supposed to do at the time that we have to do them. Whether or not we want to do them. That’s about overcoming that inertia that is coming to that crossroads. And realizing, okay, I need to make a decision here. And how much do I have in front of me to make the decision that I know I should do? And how much am I going to yield to the push back, if you will, okay, because that, that starts to define people ultimately become, it’s those moments in time when you are willing to pivot or not pivot and, you know, and then there you go. So I think probably the most profound one that happened to me early on, early on, it had been several significant ones, quite honestly, was my decision to leave college football coaching. Because I was 30 years old, had a master’s degree. As associate football coach at University of Hawaii, I was a defensive coordinator. I had a guy like Dom capers on my staff who went on to NFL fame, having been a head coach and a few other really good coaches. We were winning in those days. Everything was right about that picture was aspiration of mine. Really, from the time that I, I realized, when I went to college, what I thought I wanted to do, because the game was self had such an impact on me. And I was doing really well when I was coaching all during my 20s. And I had no thing was wrong. While I was I came out of a blue collar family. I was the first to go to college. Everybody had expectations, I would do that. So I could make more money than they were earning in factories. And my father was a machinist, and so hard working people. So I got it, but I got into a business everything was right about it except that didn’t pay any money. So in 1977 I was I had a Good position in coaching was successful coaching. And I was making $15,000 a year. And Larry price the head coach is making $25,000 a year. In fact, after Larry left, which was such a good, so my leaving, they brought in Victoria $35,000 a year I mentioned that because Nick rolovich, just left for $15 million a year. So maybe 40 years later, maybe if I’d been able to stay there, what would have been one thing, but that aside, that was a major decision for me because at 30 years old, I pivoted to reinvent myself in order to stay in Hawaii, I take a mainland coaching job, my then wife was mother of my three children ultimately, you know, really grown to dislike the demands of coaching. I had very idealistic notions in those days about not only keeping my marriage intact, but also about fatherhood and what to do, right. And coaching was very demanding. So I took a job, they really knew nothing about to sell television time. On on the comm that csef tell the time said to me, you know, Rick, if you want to work hard in this business, in three years, you could make $50,000 a year, working hard. At the age of 30. In the life I was living wasn’t even an issue. I thought, Wow, it’s the first time and all those years and even when I got out of grad school, anybody talked to me about making what seemed to be serious money at the time. And I felt a real deep compulsion to go for it. So that was probably, you know, and I have no regrets. I’ve got a 43 year old son who’s done really well for himself and a four year old son has done well. It’s a 35 year old daughter and my kids. But that changed my life change my destiny.
Unknown Speaker 6:45
Yeah. So I mean, you at the age of 35, you made that pivot 3030. You’re a little a little older to kind of start your professional career at that point, right. That was Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 6:57
yeah. Why so many times 20 is coaching football. But here’s the deal. That was a professional career. That’s what I wanted to do just to college football. Unlike today, the top 100 coaches, coaches at division one schools all make $2 million or more a year. In those years, we just did it for the love of the game. And it wasn’t all that long ago. It’s four decades ago. But you know, a little bit more than that. But the bottom line is, I thought that was my profession. It was everything about it was professional. So there are a lot of work and everything else, it just didn’t pay anything to pay the money. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 7:30
yeah. Now that’s a big transition and kind of moving from one track, and then kind of going back to the bottle and another.
Unknown Speaker 7:36
Yeah, but you know, laying Little did I know, though, that so much of what I learned, you know, look, I don’t know how much you know about belief systems. But most experts will tell you, you lock them in pretty much in your 20s. And I had locked in a lot of my belief systems that were rooted in sports, team sports coaching, a lot of other things that I learned along the way. And so as it turned out, even though I got into a business I knew nothing about I found out the water, that would be the foundation for me going forward on how I would leave
Unknown Speaker 8:06
it. I mean, they say a lot of folks and military positions, high stress positions in their 20s translate well into a long career, would you say it was more like just grit that you had developed? Or if you were to
Unknown Speaker 8:20
I think grit is important guys a grits in Florida, I think you have to have determination. I people that I’ve known that have succeeded. You know, look, you can get lucky in in, in in the financial markets, there’s no question. And we’ve all seen that I don’t denigrate anybody success. But along the path that I’ve chosen, required a lot of grit, a lot of determination, and never stopped. So I will tell you, I’ve been a guy who’s been in one setting after another turning around failing companies. That’s not some magic potion. That’s a lot of hard work and determination to you know, to succeed.
Unknown Speaker 8:58
So hard work and determination if you jumped on that highway for the next decade or so. When
Unknown Speaker 9:05
I look, I jumped I jumped on that early on. I don’t usually talk about myself and this kind of podcast. Like I went from being a grad assistant to associate associate coach in five years, I went from knowing nothing about television. And five years later, I replaced the guy that hired me. And in seven years I became a general manager and I never looked back and I’ve had title after title and President to national broadcast companies are one major market, television stations and I can talk a lot more about it. I’ve worked at CBS in New York, but I came home 18 years ago, and did some things that nobody thought were even possible starting first and foremost, we’re taking over k 20 k GNB, two filling stations, the financials were there, same ownership. Never one guy before ever did that. Turn both of those around very quickly both in revenue performances, ratings success, we make a one on one Fox affiliate in the country not once but twice after 16 straight quarters of ownership of a downward spiral went on to stay with kg MB took it to 2007 sold that eight came, broke. Everybody brought everybody to their knees the week before Christmas 2008. We made this decision to try to build what ultimately became Hawaii news now out of a broken economy pending FCC and DOJ approval. we merged three television stations together, we understood mobile technology. And we created a 21st century multimedia company. Okay, so I will tell you that my whole life has been about that. It’s been about starting at the bottom of working through or inheriting things that weren’t working and making them work. Before I came back, I was president of a company of Telemundo, called Telemundo second largest Spanish language network owned by very sophisticated players. Sony was one and Liberty Media was another two private equity groups. They had just bought it for like $500 million, saw our niche in the marketplace in Hispanic broadcast, saw the trends understood what Latinos meant for the in economic terms invested heavily lost 100 million the first year and their very first year fire. The two people brought myself in a guy named Jim McNamara and was the CEO. He stayed in Miami. I stayed in LA. I lived on airplanes for 45 weeks a year. And we sold that puppy for 2.7 billion, three years later. And we would have we would have sold it for three and a half billion. Jeff Immelt was on record because we sold to NBC of saying that was one of the things that came out of 911 was they saved nearly a billion dollars in the acquisition of Telemundo. And that’s because I had private equity guys who wanted to sell and they put a deal on the table they couldn’t refuse even though it was discounted. I’ve been involved in those kinds of things night. Okay, so my life and I, I tell you, I was living on planes 45 weeks a year,
Unknown Speaker 11:47
building a company based in LA, we got a big operation up in the northern Bay Area. I have three stations, one of which we bought on my watch and Dallas big market. Just a transaction for that alone was a couple hundred million dollars was complicated. Plus Houston, San Antonio, Miami, I was in out of all the time where our headquarters were San Juan, Puerto Rico is our largest operation. Our second largest operation was in New York City. And then Chicago, Denver, we were buying Phoenix when I left. And then when the deal was on. I was traveling, post 911 commercially, not privately, I would wake up in Miami work in Chicago sleep in Houston. Now, I’m just telling you that because that’s the kind of seasoning I’ve had through my life. I came home after all of that, at that point at 25 years in the business, quite honestly, it wasn’t about the job. I came back to it because I made a decision, which is something I learned my next pivot point in my 40s about alignment. After going through some pretty toxic experiences. I decided for me it was on a macro basis. My alignment was where I wanted to wake up in the morning, and Hawaii had been my touchstone. I told the press when I came back in 2002. I told them that I said you I moved to the mainland and 89 by never left Hawaii, which was true not only to come back every year, but let me offer this insight. When I first left here, I went to Seattle brought my three kids with me to run King television, one of the most prestigious jobs in America. And they recruited me, I had been working for them for a couple years, they could have hired anybody. So they offered me the job on my 43rd birthday. I I was in Wyoming I was doing a football game with Jim lay. And I got this up if they said we made it this year, they called me up to wish me happy birthday coming up to Tommy made a decision when I moved my family. And I really didn’t want to move on to Hawaii at that point. I really didn’t. I’ve been here since 71. My kids were born here. They loved it here. I was doing well in television, I was proud of it by that point, I transitioned over cage and now we’re doing all youth sports, we’re making a real contribution to the community. I was doing a lot of public speaking, I was enjoying just a sense of being a real integral part of this place through sports, which was sort of my interesting enough in my origins of my coming here in 1965. As a player, you know, the living like that all felt good. But in that spirit of of challenge, there was in that crossroads, like I said, You know, I knew all roads lead to that I had to do something. This is my second big pivot point that I really didn’t want to do. But I knew that I had to do it. And I answered the bell to do that. So I didn’t know they were going to sell the company brought me to turn around three years later we did they sold it. Next thing I know I’m at CBS New York. But during those three years of in Seattle, everybody always referred to me as the guy from Hawaii. And that always felt good. I always felt good that when I went to New York, it’s variety with this big article about I was a guy from Seattle, but not the guy from Seattle guy from Hawaii, you know, with this Boston accent, you know, but I mean, I knew where my roots were. So it’s been like that. Okay, it’s not been an easy road. It’s been really a hard road. So that’s why you bring up the subject of grit. I take a lot of pride in who’s you get to talk about that, but nothing’s ever come easy. Nobody’s ever handed. Anything,
Unknown Speaker 15:00
okay, anything there I also hear undertones of nothing saying go your way, right? They sold the station, they had to take everybody out, you’re kind of in that shuffle.
Unknown Speaker 15:11
They bring you down, they have you report to a suite at the four seasons. This was in Seattle. And it was speculated all of us would be out and see you, man. They said, Rick, there’s nothing personal. But you know, we just bought this company familiar billion dollars and we have our guy and we wish you well, his the HR people will see you later, was even like getting fired, which is part of the transition was well, what does that but that led me to CBS in New York, I was at a decision then do I stay? Do I get a broadcast I just left why want to see how I spent three years in Seattle, turning that puppy around. I still have a handwritten note from the CEO, we we brought that station back from from that that spiral. That’s why they hired me because of they’ve done an employee survey and they realized they had a house of cards. And they knew because it was company was founded by a woman named Dorothy bullet. And she had passed away and the previous year, and now it was time to look at the asset and old Board of Directors, she was 96 that she was recognized one of the top 100 women of the 20th century. She’s the legendary she was 56 years old, when she started television in the northwest, legendary person. Anyway, I could go off and tell you stories like that. But all of those things were sort of these Han Solo moments. I’m going through space, if you will, and I’m life is happening. And I’m trying to be as good and as aggressive as I possibly can. not really knowing nobody offer me anything to guarantee and then just dealing with stuff. So what so so in that regard line, it wasn’t till later, in my late 40s. I was down in Australia, we just sold a company I was president and national broadcast company, and ITV 27 radio, and I had partners was a two year deal supposed to be a five year deal. Thank God, it was only a two year deal. most toxic experience of my life. These were bad guys. I got it. I got I got a line with bad guys. I’m down in Australia. And I’m trying to purge if you will. And I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next. And got a bunch of books at the time Bill Gates wrote a book called The road ahead. And this is pre done Think about all this happened. This was in the 90s think about all this already. 30 years ago, they were all that’s happened since then. And and it was sort of a real prophetic publication. And he was talking about he was talking about the movie The graduate. And he met he referenced it in the context, it was a great movie of probably too young to remember Dustin Hoffman and and it was a was a word in that it was an experience in there. Which how Holbrook is advising this young man. And he tells me the word is plastics. Benjamin Yeah, became became such a colloquial expression from this one movie line about plastics, like what you want to do with your life going and plastic. And Gates was saying in the book, if they wrote, if they redid that movie today, the the word would be, you know, communications, he was talking about that he said, you know, would be that’s the word. And I was in one of those sort of Jungian moments, you know, maybe a little bit like this. And thinking, gee, what did I just learn, I just went through two years of a really toxic experience with people, I’m not gonna mention anybody’s name, or flat out evil. I mean, these guys are bad guys. I couldn’t wait to get away from them. And the seller, the company allowed me to do that it was, I’d never been in that experience before. And I thought to myself, you know what alignment, I slipped into that I let them buy me into that job. Not going to do that anymore. I’m going to pick my alignments from this point forward. Because I was evaluating my life at that point. And think of what worked, what didn’t work and why. And when I got out of sync was what because of the wrong alignments. And ever since that I’ve been very selfish. So I tell you, my decision come back to white post self Telemundo, which was influenced also in my life experiences of 911 911 impacted me in a big way. My dad died that year, but it also impacted me I was up close to that. But it also just resonated with me about life, a lot of circumstances. And so I was I was single, my kids were grown. I could make a decision for myself. And so I chose my alignment was I wanted to come back and live here. I wanted to come back here and serve this place. For all the experiences I gained over those 13 years in broadcast in my career, and I came back to a fertile setting and having k 20 k GMB, it was really about this place was really about coming back to Hawaii. Which is important because that decision on that premise 18 years ago was the exact thing that hit me a year ago and I made this decision to run for mayor
Unknown Speaker 19:36
makes it think of a couple things you know when people invest a lot of money in these you know real estate or whatever they’re investing in you get a point to you’re financially free and really the freedom is doing what you want where you want with more importantly who you want and also when you want but also there you know you can I came back home and you know a big issue that’s a lot of people realize is a lot of the pirates talent, leaves quiet in the brain drain, they go to the mainland for much higher paid jobs. I mean, when I came back home, I had to take a 30% pay cut, like how can anybody survive in Hawaii? But you’re obviously in a position where you could and kind of make an impact. Yeah, take us back to the opportunity that was presented to you to come back. What did you think at the time of the impact that you could make?
Unknown Speaker 20:22
So full disclosure, some 25 years in the business? I just led that life that I told you, you know, turning Telemundo around, I’d run major market stations while I was on the mailing, including working with the network. I was in a lot of cities, whatever, you know, I, I decided that, you know, that was not a sustainable model. Because I felt like I was for me, I was not connected to anything, even though we’re having some big successes, and all that stuff that happens in that in that kind of mode. But I actually wanted to come back and the athletic director at the University of Hawaii, that was the year that Evan dibella announced that he that we’ll start off with Hugh your shooter said he was going to retire at the end of 2002. So anyway, we sold we sold Telemundo. We made the announcement on October 11, one month to the day 2001 on NBC. And I was given the mandate as president of the company to get the deal closed by the end of 2002. And every day earlier, it would be accretive to ge. So it was a lot of pressure. And because the acquiring button that’s on NBC at the time. So that’s what I was living on airplanes and doing the things I was telling you, which is like crazy, crazy life. And I was a lot I mean it was my cup runneth over, I got my fill of conference rooms and all the other things you can get through. So I wanted to come back I thought okay, this is a great thing. And so you’re she is retiring. And the Dobell is the president of Brazil, why? And he’s making these noises about he’s gonna bring in, you know, this great athletic director and he saying all the things that really kind of spoke to me, in fact, I was hearing from everybody in town, Ricky’s talking about you want a business guy with a media background, who had connections to Hawaii, all this stuff, and I’m thinking, that’s me, he’s talking to me, I couldn’t even get it, I couldn’t get a cup of coffee with this guy. He already knew they were gonna hire him information. So I kind of backed into the job. Because again, it wasn’t about the money or leaving the positions, everybody that I left at that time, given the success, we had, thought I was absolutely crazy. To leave the fast the fast lane, okay. Because I gained a lot of recognition is on front cover of magazines and crap like that, you know, I could have stayed on the mainland, that came back to money to my wanting the alignment of my wife to live here. And it wasn’t, I could be cavalier about money. I said, bills to pay. And you know what, you can make some money. But let me tell you the first time you see the government take half of it, it’s pretty eye opening, the numbers look a lot different. Okay. So the one of the short of it is, I came back. Because I wanted to make a difference in this community. I really felt that that circumstance was not the one that I initially wanted. I wanted to be the ad of diversity of white.
Unknown Speaker 23:13
And I thought back to my roots. But I learned enough about television. And this was enough of a challenge because the unprecedented nature, the fact that businesses were failing, under this ownership that I did it for that I did to come back and try to apply everything in anything I knew about improving local television. No, I started in 1977 KGB was a dominant station, but no, I can tell you those years, you know, used to be a one week delay programming or whatever. And technically, it wasn’t that kind of investment. I can remember early on once I started understand the business people always say things like, how come local TV so junk will go to mainland so much better, you know, that kind of thing. From that to you know, in this last go around, not just going all the awards we won and everything I could tell you Hawaii news now is one of the most highly regarded, you know, a statewide television market. And one of the more highly regarded broadcast entities, even women great great great bought us a year ago they had 100 stations they bought 63 Raycom we merged into a publicly traded company 163 stations and Hawaii news now what right to the top of that. So I you know that to me, that is a contribution to Hawaii, just like an ad for we started doing UAE sports as a contribution to Hawaii. That was a vision that we understood that Hawaii sports fans, they went from the northern tip of Hawaii to the southern tip of Hawaii Island, and everywhere in between. I understood the feeling of the pride of that. And what’s what we we began to do on you know, pretty good basis. So I came back to serve at that point, okay. And it’s sort of a place that i’d love that I always felt strongly connected to. And that began I didn’t know what was going on when I didn’t know what was going to happen going forward. I never had a crystal For me, it’s never been about trying to predict the future. It’s about how you created this over course of 18 years, there was one thing after another, we would create some great success. So be here in the broadcast business. But beyond that, for the people, it wasn’t I heard on the media today make a comment about making profits for mainland companies. For me, it was first and foremost, always about the people creating a great place to work. You don’t want news now is the only media company devoted Best Places to Work for five years in a row, I didn’t do it in the last year, because we went to a sale that way to five years before I tested that it has to be voted on by 80% of your employees. And quite honestly, in news organizations, people are pretty cynical. They don’t they don’t drink the Kool Aid. Yet we were, you know, by our our employees, you know, they loved working there. And I brought back a number of people when I brought back the link, coworkers, I that’s why I brought back and we’ll give you a bunch of them that I hired who are succeeding on the mainland, the creative, something they felt they could take their career and bring it back here, even to the extent that I wasn’t able to pay them quite what they were making on the mainland, but they prefer to be home with family and actualizing their careers, I can give you a bunch of names there. But I’m really proud of that. And they’ve all evolved to me was that even even I have to be careful it because I’ve had some really great union endorsements, my folks be certified, they voted out the union, that doesn’t even happen in this now. Because their belief in management. So we made a great place to work in which we inspired people to do their best. I used to joke lane, I’d say the same thing to you. You know, as I’ve gotten older, everybody looks younger. Even though you’ve already I’m sure I don’t know much about you have accomplished a great deal. Yet this is in front of you. But you need to be in a situation where it’s not just you alone doing that necessarily, you’re going to need at least people who work in organizational settings, but in the kind of dynamics I was in with people who want to belong to an organization, because let’s face it, the news, or even sales or whatever marketing, and that’s the setting, that’s the kinds of people who come into that, you know, we made it a great place to work, but I always challenged everybody to say get best is still in front of you. And the way we were the way we we did that was I push innovation all the time on new ideas more than I did improvement. improvement was just a basic expectation. We’re going to get better. You know, we have metrics. But no, we’re the new ideas. What are we doing? It’s different and better. And so, people we talk about making work fun, get off in that kind of stuff. We’re not stuck in the, you know, the the log of yesterday, we’re in there and crank created tomorrow. So right from the beginning, you know, where step is almost as interesting was 10 years ago, because at that point, I said, we’re in the first year of the second decade. Since 2012. We started October 26 2009. Were the first year the second decade of the 21st century. And look, look what’s going on in broadcast media. And what what are we going to do about it. And we jumped all over mobile technology, we really understood the amount of podcasts against, we understood all that stuff. And we made it happen as a contribution to what was precisely why I came home, the successes earlier on to Caitlin and Kj MB and those recognitions, that was all one thing. This, this was a significant change in the trajectory of local media in Hawaii. And we’re able to accomplish that
Unknown Speaker 28:26
if you can kind of illustrate the differences between the television the years and the Hawaii years. It seemed like in the Hawaii years, you had more of a like an impact where the Telemundo yours, you’re more but in within the operations.
Unknown Speaker 28:41
Well, I got hired to get hired initially with eight stations, three of them were negative EBITDA. And three years later, we had 11 stations, we tripled the EBIT, da the whole company, we make strategic acquisitions, and only that we created a presence on a national landscape. When I started, the consumer buying index was $80 billion in the Hispanic market, when I left three years later, was 600 and 50 billion, with a trajectory to hit a trillion dollars. There’s a high stakes game, and it had that hit that trajectory hit that point, a couple years after I left, this was understanding the moment in time how to capitalize on but that was just a lot of a lot of personnel work to be honest with you lay that was a lot of people picking, you know, I had to put general managers in place and provide the right kind of leadership. You know, it was in a tough place because first of all, the Hispanic market had one big giant gorilla this company called Univision and they were very territorial. And they made it very clear as soon as we begin to make some inroads, if you leave here to go work at del mundo, you’ll never come back here. So you know, they drew some hard lines in the sand. And so I found myself hiring general managers like what I’ve been for a lot of years. 10 of them though, great. I think eight of them had never been gems before. And just picking people who understood what was at stake, who had capable abilities and skill sets and whatever. So that was different. That was different. But that’s been the same here. When I came back, let me tell you a story. Okay, so KGB and h1 were both owned by the same company, Ms communications. And I knew Jeff smile in my days from Seattle because he owned the Seattle Mariners. I was trying to work in gll for 5% equity of his club, I’d buy a second television station and pay the broadcast rights, provided he gave us the equity. I could never make that deal happen, but I got to know. Okay, so I come back, I come back and look at the I look at Jeff owns it. He’s a big radio guy and Kate Joanne, that 16 straight quarters of downward ratings and revenue 1616 quarters, less, less, less four years. In that process that bought KGB through the acquisition of Lee enterprises had not invested heavily in it, and was really downtrodden. They had that for two years at two stations in Hawaii. They’ve been operating on a temporary grant from the FCC allowed to maintain and to operate even though the FCC one of them ultimately to divest because it was a rule violation. But nonetheless, they had it. And they basically said, What do we do? I mean, ktmb the distributor perspective, when I walked out in 1984, to go stock. What was then Kiko, which became kh now we’re doing just under 20 million a year, but I walked in in 2002, she was doing under 10 million a year. So you can imagine from 84 to 2000 to less than $10 million. Gross, what I walked into, okay, in Hawaii, over that course of time, that’s how, that’s how broken the place was. So so we we, you know, so I asked to be with the management team of both. They had never done it. There would there was like resentment, Cajun booze in original building. Over in qayg. On Kapiolani Boulevard, in a pee question. It was all this brand new, glitzy, Kay, Joanne. And it was sort of like bad blood because broadcasters compete against each other. And it was sort of like the haves and have nots. There’s a lot of bitterness. So I wanted to look at the manager. So I saw all the advantages to come. Day one before I ever met, any of them in the station met had a meeting conference room with the lean tower at the Hilton Hawaiian village. I tell them to bring their number twos and number threes. If they had it. I wanted to, I wanted everybody to bring whoever was it was in charge of stuff. Okay. Okay. So sure enough, about 35 or so I never really counted the exact number of showed up. And the tension in the room was palpable. You could feel it. I walked in and like pretty much laid out. You know what it was about? I want to tell them, Look, look, because here’s the deal. The night before, I’m watching Leslie Wilcox and run Mizutani on television, I’m sitting in a hotel room, and I’m watching and they say goodbye that day, they fired the general manager. And they started speculating about me. Well, Rick Blaine Jays conducted way. He’s gonna run two stations at the same time. I’m sitting at a hotel, listen to them speculate about my arrival. Okay. Meanwhile, I’ve got this meeting set up the very next morning for all the managers, and they’re like shaking their heads, and I have no one to leser like, this is impossible, you know, this can’t happen. You know, what’s going on here, you know, and they had people crying over the guy, they just fired and stuff, you know, it’s like,
Unknown Speaker 33:15
so. So I go in that room. And I tell them pretty much this is the way it’s going to be. Just want to make it really clear to you that you know, I haven’t come back home to retire. Some of you may think that because it was a lot of stuff talked about the price. Just coming off with incredible success. But I came back home because of my love and passion for this place and to make a difference. So let’s do you think I’m going to give you a ride on a talk today about you know, you got to run hotter, jump higher, there’s a new sheriff in town. That’s not the case. I’m here to serve notice on what I believe, and that is, the reason why stations would not be performing is its lack of leadership. Okay, so I’m going to challenge all of you. I’m going to tell you right now, the people who are most at risk of the men or women in this room, because that’s what I’m going to look at first, if we expect to inspire performance, I want to look at who’s leading. Okay, because I don’t know how any of you got good jobs. I know that these stations are both dysfunctional. They’ve been dysfunctional for quite some time. So all I can do without casting aspersions on anybody is simply tell you to meet that’s a leadership challenge. So my first job is not about as a me everybody else it’s going to be to evaluate you. And whether or not you should be in that job. Show me what you have. I want to see it up close in person. I’m going to get to know you. I want to watch what you do. I want to see how people respond to you. So it was it was with that understanding that I had a leadership challenge on my hands predetermine the bitterly but predicated on poor performance. Okay, but at the same time, to be fair, I just started to tell you, probably at the end of the year, there were five people left from that group. Okay. And some of the people that we changed were internal promotions. A number of You know, good people that that just speaks to how important leadership is, you know, who’s leading in the decision about who’s leading is really important. And that can make a huge difference. And that, quite honestly, is why I chose to run for me, I made that decision in a time of my life, when I could have said, I just had a hell of a career. What am I doing? I’ve told people repeatedly, I made this with my heart, maybe that’s the wrong place to point to. But it certainly wasn’t what my brain, I was driven by this as a referendum for leadership because of what’s at stake. This was pre COVID. So I made that decision based on love of place, not very much different than the decision I made in 2000 to 18 years ago to come back here and make a contribution to Hawaii. All right, for the standpoint of which he was at what these properties are, for that matter, when I took over broke the television station in 1984. You know, and what we then did with that with you, ah, sports, no, we serve this community. Well, for that matter, even when I got into kg MB, all the things we did over the years, when I came over here, you know, I announced that I was running for mayor at the old stadium Park. And the reason why I did it, because I’m really a sentimental guy, because that was the place in 1965, that I first saw the pride of wise local people. Okay, that’s the first time I saw it. It’s also the same setting was the first time I learned how to fight for Hawaii. And I wanted to announce my mayoral candidacy in that setting, because it brought me all the way back to Hawaii in a very different time in 1965. But my life experiences over the course of that time. And what I’ve tried to do here, have all been to the good. And now this last chapter, this again, was pre COVID, which as I said earlier, is going to redefine my entire time as mayor. Okay, but this was all about that. This is all about making a difference in a place you live feeling connected to it. And then quite honestly, who’s going to help run this place? I’ve made it I’ve made it clear to everybody that I’m not doing this alone. I’m asking for responsibility, accountability. But I I’ve, I’ve said repeatedly, I’m going to try to bring in the best minds I can possibly get people who are smart thinkers, smart doers, and also want to be held accountable. Because we’re in a time right now that we’ve never seen before. This is the most difficult setting any mayor has ever walked into. And I’ve been told that daily by a lot of people, I realized what’s at stake. It’s not just because of dysfunction with heart and the mayor and what’s happening with the rail, or for that matter. Anything else do you want to cite? We’ve got a lot of issues here.
Unknown Speaker 37:30
If you were to categorize You know, when you made that decision to go for mayor, was it more of a you’re compelled by you’re optimistic, what kind of impact you’re able to make with the position? Or was it more you’re frustrated at what’s happening out there? And if so, what specifically?
Unknown Speaker 37:45
Yeah, that’s a good question. I, you know, was probably neither assessments was not really ego driven. I mean, quite honestly, when you make a decision of this consequence, it really is a certain amount of trepidation. Right? But you feel you’re being drawn to it. There’s a sense of responsibility that you almost can’t deny, you don’t want to turn your back on, like I said earlier was sort of a referendum for leadership. So if I live here, and I say, I love it here. I love its people I love where I’d been in my life has been here, then you come to a moment in time like that. That’s never just one thing. You feel compelled? I’d be I couldn’t turn my back on it easily. But I just said, for some reason I was up there with people whispering in my ear. Ricky got to do this. Well, what more do you have left to Intellivision, you got a lot of gas in your tank? You know, you either he, he didn’t do this. And so since that time, that’s been gratifying. Because look, when we announced I had no idea how I was going to do I mean, you know, even how many people are going to write one point, we had 15 people running from there, we had three experienced politicians running from there. So you know, there was a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, there was no guarantees. But now I find myself not only having one of the primary. But as you may or may not be aware, decidedly ahead, tuition, today is Election Day, in the polls, who knows we possibly can and make sure that we we meet that and then some. Um, so I have a sense of destiny about this way. I really do like all roads have led to this. And I’m all I can possibly do from this point forward. getting elected is to apply everything in my life that I’ve learned my level of this place, the people that I know, let me look in the challenge of all the unknowns. I mean, I said repeatedly, this is going to take collaboration at the state level, it’s going to take collaboration with the federal government, it’s going to take collaboration with the private sector, in ways that perhaps have even happened before from the standpoint of the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. And and I intend to do all of that, because we’re going to need a lot of help and a lot of things we’re going to go right back to where I talk to you really about innovation. We need some new ideas. There is nothing about the situation I’m walking into that says perpetuate the status quo. Nothing. Okay. Now, if we see things that working really well, I don’t have that kind of ego. I’m not that person. That’s one of the things that really helped facilitate turnarounds. You don’t walk in there, which is what’s such a classic mistake. When you take over your number one job and feel like, Okay, I’m here, it’s my signature, we have to reinvent something. Now I’m going to look for everything that we’re doing doing well and capitalize on that, and then stop the things we’re not doing well and figure out how we can do it better. That’s that’s how you operate in terms
Unknown Speaker 40:24
when you jump into the position. What is something that based on your experience? So with your skill sets and what you’ve learned throughout the years, what what specifically made you for this position or speaking on any issue out there that you’re kind of the guy exactly for that issue? Look, you
Unknown Speaker 40:41
asked me earlier about grit, you know, for some reason, I’m wired, the way I’m wired my whole life, I’ve just, you know, been like that. I think it’s also a really, really do. I mean, I’m an old team guy, rooted in team I love building two teams, teams, people around me and
Unknown Speaker 40:57
watching people thrive and being a facilitator in that.
Unknown Speaker 41:02
You know, I’m looking at this job as, as daunting lane as it feels right now, given the circumstances. And believe me, there’s good reasons to say that it’s a very exciting opportunity right now, leadership is situational. And there’s some real silver linings in this, I’ve talked openly about it. And and we’re going to try to see the best we can do I think, I think the landscape is fertile right now for us to do some things that maybe hit a four you couldn’t, in the group fitness in the sake of the greater good, the challenges is significant. And so I I’m just drawn to that kind of thing. It’s, you know, it’s, you know, why do people climb things like Mount Everest, and I’m gonna go through all this stuff, the crazy things people do is just something in you. And I’ve been just go like, this is in need to do.
Unknown Speaker 41:45
So we’ll wrap up here with the Tony Robbins question, break down a couple of things for us. So first, what is the some kind of a secret or hack or any kind of ritual that you do that led to you being a high performer? Right, high output? Basically a science achievement? And secondly, what is your secret or hack for the art of fulfillment? What keeps you motivated, keeps you going?
Unknown Speaker 42:08
Well, you know, I’ve never taken myself too seriously. Going to be really candid. You know, I would tell you, I’ve been blessed, I think with a certain sense of humility, and recognizing my own limitations, and always trying to work over that. You know, I learned this that you’re going to crack up since you brought up Tony Robbins. Let me bring up barbara walters. Okay. I’m watching this is years ago, Barbara Walters is doing a 25th Anniversary Show every year for 25 years. Once a year, she interviewed four people, they were the world’s most famous people from kings, the movie stars, celebrities, athletes, business tycoons, all of it. And so now it’s in a 25th. And we’re doing a special anniversary show and she’s being questioned about, okay, 25 years have gone and you’ve had the privilege of interviewing 100 of the world’s most fascinating, successful not successful on the on wants to die. I mean, depends. People like that, you know, what were the common denominators, you saw, we saw them up close in person. She said, I moved to town, I was getting dressed in a hotel room. He said, you know, tear, he said, there was was was there was two things that really popped out. One, they understood their work, and they took it more seriously. But secondly, they didn’t take themselves very seriously. They understood who they were, their human foibles, if you will. I look at my life like that. I know the impact I can have in what I do professionally. But I also understand
Unknown Speaker 43:33
I’m an imperfect person, in many ways.
Unknown Speaker 43:36
What is your secret or hack for the art of fulfillment or any other kind of mindset tricks that you kind of use to kind of keep yourself going?
Unknown Speaker 43:45
One thing is to stay positive. You know, from a leadership standpoint, you have to be positive. Okay. And you have to understand that when you’re a leader, you have to have broad shoulders. I’m being tested right now. There’s negative campaign stuff that’s going on, if that broad shoulders, and you know, I think people look at that, and, and and look for you to fulfill that expectation. So, consistency is really important.
Unknown Speaker 44:06
You know, having integrity.
Unknown Speaker 44:07
Well, I appreciate your time, Rick, once you if people want to learn more about your campaign, you want to duck your
Unknown Speaker 44:14
URL, your website for folks, we have a website, and everybody around me laughs all the time is Rick blanch it from there.com. I always have to pick a bucket. Sometimes they say, it’s Rick Glen Jodi for mayor.com. When I’ve enjoyed this, I know we didn’t go through all your questions. But I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to I think because all this was designed, I think, in some ways to showcase a little bit of how I tick inside. And so I chose to articulate it that way. And thank you for allowing me to do that.
Unknown Speaker 44:41
Yeah, yeah. I mean, we never know what’s going to happen, right? People ask, Well, once you get into a deal, what are you going to do when this happens, or that happens? Well, we don’t know if that’s going to happen. So let’s just talk about, you know where we are between the two years right now. But yeah, thanks for thanks for listening, everybody. We’ll see you guys next time.
Unknown Speaker 45:00
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Unknown Speaker 45:15
just two local guys with so much to say listen to