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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 4, 2009

Layoffs of KHNL news staff include Dashefsky, Ako, Shima

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Diane Ako

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Howard Dashefsky

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sharie Shima

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KHNL news anchors Stephanie Lum and Mari-Ela David and reporter Minna Sugimoto will be among the on-air journalists who will be part of the merged KHNL-KGMB9 news team.

But well-known anchors Howard Dashefsky and Diane Ako and Chief Meteorologist Sharie Shima, all at KHNL, will lose their jobs once the merger of the two news operations is completed, sources familiar with the station said.

KGMB9, KHNL and K5 announced last month that they plan to merge newsrooms, simulcast some news programs and cut about a third of their staffs.

Managers began handing out layoff notices to staffers at the local NBC affiliate this week. Several newsroom sources said they expect only a handful of KHNL's on-air talent to survive the cuts.

The layoffs are expected to take place after the merger is completed next month.

"It's real grim in the (KHNL) newsroom right now," said Gerald Kato, journalism professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. "And morale hasn't bottomed out yet."

John Fink, KHNL general manager, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Earlier this week, Fink declined response on personnel issues.

KGMB also gave termination notices to several employees but so far, the layoffs have not included any of its on-air staff.

KGMB News Director Chris Archer, who is heading the transition said most of the CBS affiliate's news management team will remain.

The combined KGMB-KHNL operations will be headed by KGMB General Manager Rick Blangiardi.

Lum, who anchors KHNL's 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, has worked at KHNL since 2001, and David, who joined KHNL in 2007, is a reporter and weekend anchor. Sugimoto is the station's crime reporter.

A veteran of the Honolulu media scene, Dashefsky joined KHNL in 2000 after holding reporting and anchor posts at KITV, KHON and KGMB.

Ako, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, co-anchors KHNL's weekday morning news.

Shima joined KHNL in April 2001 following eight years at KITV, where she was the weekday weather anchor.