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Strategy from a Swordfighter

Musashi Miyamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitaki Tsunejiro

 

Musashi Minamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitake Tsunejiro.

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiOne of the greatest swordfighters in history comes to mind as PBS Hawai‘i sets out to draft a new strategic plan to guide us in a rapidly changing media environment.

 

“Do nothing which is of no use,” wrote samurai Musashi Miyamoto, when he wasn’t roaming Japan wielding two swords, facing enemies in the Edo period.

 

Yes, Miyamoto-San, we must decide what skills and habits of mind we need to take with us into the future, in order to serve up great content on the many viewing screens in people’s lives. Folks might want to lean back for an hour-long documentary on a big wall monitor; catch a one-minute clip on their smartphone; or participate in a globally interactive discussion on their tablet. In fact, it’s already become common for people to use two digital devices at the same time to access content.

 

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” So true, Minamoto-San, as we clear the bias of the present moment and attempt to see with clarity how we and fellow Islanders will want to use media and storytelling in the years ahead. Our organization used to peer ahead five years; now, even trying to pin down the next three years in this industry seems foolhardy.

 

In meetings held so far, our Board of Directors, Staff and stakeholders agree that PBS Hawai‘i must create a far-reaching system of touch points for people to encounter our programming. We’ll go where people are, rather than wait for them on a television monitor. We’ll continue to broadcast. However, many more people will want to engage in content online, selecting what they want to see when they want to see it. We want that, too.

 

First and foremost, we’re storytellers. We can and will adapt, to meet the need for quality stories and interactivity in different ways on different digital devices.

 

“Fixation is the way to death. Fluidity is the way to life,” wrote Miyamoto, who was known for anticipating an opponent’s moves and unleashing unexpected moves to bring victory.

 

However, the future isn’t all about fluidity and change. Like many of our viewers, we intend to hold onto our mindsets of curiosity, discovery, resilience, fairness; our belief in exposure to diverse viewpoints and civil discourse; and the value of universal access to education and reliable information.

 

When our Board of Directors adopts a new strategic plan at mid-year, we’ll share the plan with you and count on your feedback as we evolve. As Miyamoto-San said, “It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.”

 

At least we don’t run the risk of sword injuries! We do stand a fighting chance of creating richer and more versatile viewing experiences for you.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

Restoring Best Picture Quality

PBS Hawai'i: Restoring Best Picture QualityWe’ll get there. Resilience is in our DNA

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiThe people of Hawai‘i bought us a $30 million new home. You provided us a forward-looking physical plant and the stability of property ownership.

 

And, of course, you now expect us to “bring it” with more and more quality content and higher and higher production values. That’s our expectation, too!

 

The last thing you want to see is reduced picture quality on shows that you love.

 

Understood. And yet, you may have experienced intermittent pixelation (that’s when individual pixels in a digitized image stand out) and sporadic, brief audio disruptions, all since PBS Hawai‘i moved into our new home with major, new technology systems.

 

First, I want to apologize to you for the blemishes in your viewing experience. Second, I’d like to explain. Third, I want you to know we have been working constantly, and repeatedly seeking help from network specialists, to eliminate the problems. And fourth, we have reason to believe that a solution is imminent.

 

As I write this, Level 3 Communications is arranging for a larger dedicated fiber circuit to transport our content. Level 3’s service to this local public television station repeatedly fell through the cracks following the telecom giant’s $5.7 billion acquisition of our previous provider, TW Telecom. We experienced critical delays as Level 3 worked to integrate TW Telecom into its fold and laid off staff. Level 3’s challenges in absorbing TW persisted as PBS Hawai‘i relocated to our new building and launched a long-planned transformation of our engineering model.

 

Our new model is something we’re excited about, because it allows us to spend less money to distribute our programming on today’s multiple media platforms – and frees up more resources for quality content. Our new systems rely upon dedicated access to an undersea, overland fiber optic network that runs through a Joint Master Control Center, called Centralcast, in Syracuse, New York. We’re creating programming expressly for Hawai‘i while sharing “back-office” tech costs with our PBS nonprofit peers.

 

Using this data highway shouldn’t have presented roadblocks in the Age of Fiber, but timing is everything: Our contracted fiber provider, TW Telecom, found itself going through a wrenching ownership transition. We sense that the layoffs may have resulted in a loss of institutional knowledge about projects already underway. For three months since our move to our new building, we experienced new owner Level 3’s lack of communication and responsiveness while our picture and audio quality suffered.

 

“This wasn’t managed properly. I don’t know why – we know how to do this. We’ll take care of it,” Level 3’s new Hawai‘i sales director Anthony Compiseno assured us when we met for the first time on August 8. He told us that we’d been assigned an unsuitable network setting – and arranged to test higher bandwidth capability (300mb or megabits per second, versus 200mb on our existing pipe), with a “pseudowire” enhancement to protect our broadcasting content. By the time you read this, our picture quality may already have returned.

 

You and other viewers have gone through this trying time of intermittent broadcast disruptions with us.

 

PBS Hawai‘i sends you our gratitude and aloha, for your patience and your continued faith in our programming.

 

We’ll get there. Resilience is in our DNA.

 

Mahalo piha,
Leslie signature

PBS Hawai'i: Restoring Best Picture Quality

 

Glorious New Home – and Soon, Bright New Ways to Enjoy Content

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiIt’s one thing to see a building on a blueprint or in construction infancy. It’s another thing to finally enter the real deal.

 

So how is it?

 

In a word, glorious.

 

It feels great to walk in the PBS Hawai‘i’s The Clarence T.C. Ching Campus and get to work. Open space, glass walls, cheerful colors, creative shapes, lots of natural light, a sense of whimsy. It’s an environment that promotes collaboration and teamwork by providing a range of contemporary meeting places. The building also is designed to keep everyone informed, with monitors throughout the building showing current programming and ongoing social media. PBS children’s characters have their own little neighborhood. With all of the vantage points, everyone can keep an eye on what’s going on in the beating heart of the new home – the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Multimedia Studio and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Learning Zone.

 

We were fortunate to have top professionals fleshing out the vision of an open, collaborative workplace. Kudos to our architect, Group 70 International’s Sheryl Seaman, and her team; Justin Izumi from general contractor Allied Builders System, an employee-owned company; and our owner’s reps, Andrew Tanton from Cumming, with Jennifer Camp.

 

The project has been built, on time and on budget, but there’s more to do. We’ll spend the summer troubleshooting major new technology systems; adding a photovoltaic system; and creating donor signage to acknowledge givers who made the building possible. We’re offering small group tours of the building to interested donors who made this new home possible.

 

As our Board Chair Robbie Alm pointed out, many individuals and families wanted to help and to have their names associated with this place for integrity and civility in public affairs, education and the arts. PBS Hawai‘i heard from a stunning number of grassroots givers – 1,500 donors. Thank you so much!

 

You can see our terrific donors’ names online, and many of the names also will be inscribed on the walls of the new home. We look forward to acknowledging them.

 

Next time, I’d like to tell you about two highly regarded content executives here, Linda Brock and Jason Suapaia. They will lead our charge in producing more content focusing on this place we call home – and they will bring you more ways to enjoy the content.

 

Home is here! Mahalo piha…
Leslie signature

 

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