Q & A with John Fink,
General Manager of KHNL, K5
By Danny Cup Choy
Monday, June 24, 2002
***Writer's note: Due to current contract negotiations with the University of Hawaii, Fink was unable to answer specific questions that deal with K5's coverage of UH sports. He agreed to answer all questions that deal with the coverage of UH sports as soon as negotiations are completed. Therefore, this is Part I of a two-part interview.
Rainbow Sports Network: What made you get involved in broadcasting? Are you having as much fun at your job as you initially expected?
John Fink: My involvement in broadcasting started at an early age, when I started mimicking top announcers on TV when I played my own imaginary sports games (football, ping pong, hockey). I also was an avid fan of Top 40 radio, and could quote all of the songs and the artists at an early age, so I guess you could say that doing something in media was pre-ordained by my youthful interests.
As for having fun, I have always said that whether it is a professional job or a personal relationship, people should always make sure that they get some fun and enjoyment out of their time on this planet. Yes, I am having as much fun as I expected, though certain factors beyond our control (economic woes, competition beyond TV like the internet) also test us as we continue to perform our jobs on a day-to-day basis. The people I work with make my life easier, and the ability to provide information, entertainment, and education through TV is a wonderful job to have; I take the responsibility seriously, yet have lots of fun, too.
RSN: What has UH sports meant to your station?
JF: UH sports provide K5 a wonderful branding element – as the home to the only game in town. It allows us promotional opportunities, business partnerships, and daily discussions around town that we could not have with regular day-to-day programming. It is a special product in a special place.
RSN: Would it be possible to show some "classic" UH games over the summer on top of the ones from the past season?
JF: We are only showing one game per week, and we feel that sticking to the 2001-02 season is most appropriate, as the games from this past year are freshest in people's minds. For more classic UH events, viewers who receive digital cable can order some of the all-time great match-ups in various sports on digital channel 221.
RSN: What is the most common misconception about K5?
JF: Many people still do not realize that K5 is a sister station with News 8 (KHNL). Both stations are run by the same company and the same people. That is why you see promotional ads for K5 on News 8, and ads for News 8 on K5.
RSN: What do you like to do as a release from your stressful job?
JF: My releases include joking and social time with family and friends, playing soccer and racquetball, coaching AYSO soccer, doing charitable work, and extensive reading (mostly newspapers and magazines). And yes, I also scan the web daily with certain favorite sites listed.
RSN: Being a big soccer fan, why do you think soccer has not taken off in the U.S.? Will it ever? What needs to happen for it to take off?
JF: I think soccer has not translated well to TV in some ways, much like hockey is hard to follow on the small screen. I think low scores hurt, too. And I think Americans have not seen great success in the sport, and thus assume it is a foreign pastime that doesn't fit here. Also, it is hard to evolve a huge following when other sports with years and years of history and notoriety have such a foothold – specifically baseball and football, and even basketball.
Strong performance on the world's stage (as witnessed in the World Cup for men in 2002 and for the U.S. women when they won it all) will certainly help the growth and viability of the sport, which IS huge on the playgrounds of America, but not a big media event yet.
RSN: Any predictions about the upcoming UH football season? Do you see a bowl game in the near future?
JF: I think the UH team will finish with a good enough record (seven wins or more) to get into the inaugural Hawaii Bowl in December. After last year's performance (9-3) and with a solid nucleus returning, I think that is a reasonable expectation. A challenge for the WAC title is also part of my prognostication.