Longevity and local television have become oxymorons in this age of mergers, cutbacks and furloughs. Often, the first to be erased from the grid is local programming. Twenty-five years ago, former KITV News Director Wally Zimmermann added a regular feature segment to the news format, slotted as a kicker to give the anchor "news lite" with which to end the program.
Today, Mixed Plate is still going strong.
As reporter and producer of the segment, I can take no credit for Mixed Plate's endurance. That kudos goes to the people who have been brave (and sometimes foolish) enough to share their stories with me. And unlike many feature segments locked into a single focus, we were determined from the onset to keep evolving. Feedback has been our main motivator.
As I look back at 25 years of video, I am amazed at the enduring appeal of "good news." These are stories that validate our lifestyle, our beliefs, our cultural diversity. The only thing that changes over the years is the hair styles.
In the mid-90s, the most positive feedback was for our travel adventures. Mixed Plate racked up the frequent flyer miles, with a mission of sharing the Aloha spirit (and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts) with the residents of more than 26 countries. I hope they were inspired to learn more about Hawaii, as we brought their cultures to local viewers.
One of our earliest assignments was the traditional mud-wrestling bout for senior girls at Waianae High School. In 1985, Waianae had the not-totally undeserved reputation as a place of violence, drug addiction and academic failure. But Waianae was also a cohesive neighborhood, dedicated to a community spirit not always understood by outsiders. A high school rite of graduation became a joyous celebration of that spirit, a chance for Waianaers to poke fun at themselves and break through the stereotypes.
I've tried to select the most memorable stories, and thanks to all of you who e-mailed your opinions. If I failed to include your favorite, we'll have to wait for Mixed Plate's Golden Anniversary.
The Mixed Plate Silver Anniversary airs Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.