KBFD COLUMN by Jeff Chung

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Jeff Chung
2017.03.20 13:46

KBFD overcomes odds to celebrate 31st year

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KBFD celebrates its 31st anniversary Friday. Chairman, founder and my father, Kea Sung Chung, 83, started his venture in TV back in 1976 by leasing 30 minutes every Saturday morning on KIKU, which became KHNL in 1984. Chung broadcast KBS national news in black and white, the only news source from South Korea in Hawaii.


Locally owned and operated, KBFD started in 1986 against tremendous odds, surviving month to month. I started as a cameraman in 1986 while also acting as master control operator, playing videotapes on air. I felt like quitting so many times, but my father kept the course, never swaying despite hardship.


A memorable yet humbling experience came covering a news event in 1987 at Gov. John Waihee’s office.


The station couldn’t afford a professional broadcast camera yet. I was a rookie in a room filled with experienced reporters and cameramen jockeying for the best angle with their 50-pound broadcast cameras on tripods. I was holding a home video camera on my shoulder with an extra battery pack in my pocket.


They looked at me with my inferior equipment and acted as if I didn’t belong, subtly trying to shove me aside. I stood my ground and recorded the video footage as my hand shook from holding the camera on my shoulder so long.


I vowed to grow KBFD to compete with local networks that day. That vow was the primary reason I pushed to transition KBFD to high definition, which it did on May 11, 2015 — the first independent station in Hawaii to do so.


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