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by Stephaniejoy Alliman, staff writer

The announcement came last September: KGMB9 news co-anchor Kim Gennaula, a veteran of more than 20 years in the news industry, was leaving KGMB9 to become a philanthropy director at Kapiolani Medical Center. Gennaula began her new job on Sept. 15, but continued to co-anchor the 10 o’clock newscasts until after the election, officially signing off on Nov. 26.
Born in Ohio, Gennaula “moved constantly” because her father was in the Marines. After attending high school in Arizona, she earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin; while in college, she interned and worked for the local news stations and eventually got a job as a reporter in Jacksonville, Florida. Two years later, in 1989, KITV4 offered her a job.
“ I didn’t even ask how much the money was,” Gennaula said, “or what the benefits were or anything; I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it. Let’s talk details.’”
In 1993, she joined KGMB9, serving as weather anchor for eight years and then news anchor beginning in 2001.
“ Being a weather anchor really, really helped me with being a news anchor because you have to ad-lib your whole weathercast,” she said. “A lot of news anchors, if the teleprompter goes down or something gets out of order, they panic; I had all those years of just training to talk without scripts so it really helped with live shots, [etc].”
Gennaula described the constant deadline pressure as being the biggest challenge in TV news.
“ You have deadlines three times a day,” she explained. “If you’re a reporter, you’re always rushing against the clock to get your story in on time. If [the story’s] still developing, then you’ve gotta start all over again once you get one report filed and do it again. So it’s constant deadline pressure…but you get addicted to that, too.
“ It [was] difficult for me to juggle a family routine and a news schedule,” she continued, “and that’s mostly because to be good at what you do in news, it’s very consuming. From the minute you wake up in the morning, you’re checking the wires, you’re reading the papers to make sure there’s nothing going on that you need to be at the station for.
“ The year before I left my job [at KGMB9] was the best,” she added. “I got to fly in the F16 with the Thunderbirds, I got to meet John Travolta. The great thing about news is that you can take something and make it personal and then make everybody else care about it too, so I always got really attached to things that I was working on.”
But as her contract at KGMB9 came up for renewal last September, she realized that re-signing for three more years would mean that she could not spend quality time with her two children.
“ They’re in regular school, kindergarten and 1st grade,” she said, “They were getting out of school at 2:30 and we were coming in [to KGMB9] at 3:15, so I was getting 20 minutes maybe with them a day. They had a great nanny, but I felt really guilty that I didn’t get more time with my kids.”
About the same time, Kapiolani Medical Center offered her a position as philanthropy director.
She described how, during the job transition, KGMB9 called her one day to alert her that they were announcing her replacement. When she started work at Kapiolani that day, she said, “I was a little depressed. [Then] they told me, ‘Put on scrubs and go down to the operating room, because you’re going to watch open-heart surgery on a seven-month-old baby.’ [They] had this little tiny baby boy that was born with a hole in his heart and a blocked valve. They hooked him up to this bypass, they turned off his heart, and for 21 minutes, they stitched up the hole, fixed the valve, did all this stuff, and then I watched them turn his heart back on. And so I came out of that, and I was like, ‘Okay, thank you God, you kept me right on track with what’s really more important in life.’ So I think, all along the way I’ve been getting these little helpful things that have helped me to realize that although I loved my news job, this one has a really huge wonderful purpose too.”
Now instead of the fast-paced news schedule, Gennaula’s work focuses “on relationships: thank-you letters, phone calls, lunches. In addition to that, I have meetings and [am] helping with the PR stuff for the hospital, so there’s writing involved. So there’s a small portion of journalism included in that too. The donor stuff is just really cool because most of the people love the hospital just like I do, and so it’s an easy ask to say, ‘can you support us?’ And then it just becomes this fun sort-of puzzle of figuring out where they want their money to go and how best we can use it and then getting back to them and saying, ‘your $10,000, this is what it did for a child this week,’ or whatever. It’s really rewarding.”
Her advice to journalism students, “English, writing, yearbook, newspaper; those are always important. But then also, if you want to be on camera, speech and drama are also great electives to take. These days, in journalism, it helps if you pick a specialty, [for example,] take all of your electives in environmental science if you want to be an environmental reporter, so that you can go into a station and you can say, ‘I can be your expert on this in this category.’”
For the philanthropy side, she said that “community service in general is really rewarding.”
“ People in community service,” she explained, “are all really focused just on loving and helping other people, so it’s a whole different energy that you’re around. It’s a totally different kind of a bonus; you just have to figure out where your heart is.
“ I wouldn’t have traded either,” she added, “but I like the new one now.”


 

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