Tag Archives: radio history

Sportscaster in Hawaii – 1949

When We Last Left our Hero…

The Keiter's first apartment in Hawaii
The note on the back of this photo reads, “Our apt from the street, with the palm trees and air raid shelter in front, what a front yard, eh?”

Les Keiter had been summoned from Modesto, California to a new opportunity in Honolulu, Hawaii by his old boss, J. Elroy McCaw.  Such is the life of a budding sportscaster in 1949!  Les and Lila pulled up stakes and moved to a tiny apartment in Waikiki on Pau Street. 

Les hit the ground running as the sports director for KPOA-AM radio.  Immediately, he began doing baseball recreates on a full-time basis: 2 games a day, 7 days a week.  He called Major League ball games in the afternoon, and San Francisco Seals games in the evening.  Lila was Les’ official statistician!  She kept a huge book filled with the scores, and stats from the 8 Pacific Coast League teams as well as the American and the National Leagues. 

Kalaukukui to Kahuanui

Hawaiians love all of their sports – not only baseball.  In fact, Les was assigned a high school football game to announce four days after his arrival to the islands.  Always well researched, Les set about trying to familiarize himself with the team’s rosters.  Punahou High School was easy.  They had a lot of common names like Jones, Smith, and Obama…  But Kamehameha, the opposite team, was another story.  To attend that high school, you had to have a certain amount of Hawaiian blood in you, and therefore names got a bit more complicated.  They had 4 brothers on the squad: the Kalaukukui brothers.  Tommy Kalaukukui was the quarterback.  He threw 16 passes to Harry Kahuanui.  Imagine calling that game!  Kalaukukui to Kahuanui 16 times!  Les laid the groundwork for his life-long love affair with Hawaii because of his sense of humor and sensitivity to the local community.

Les Keiter, Gloria McLean Stewart, and James Stewart in Waikiki. The Stewart’s visited Hawaii for their honeymoon, where they enjoyed Keiter’s announcing, and the couples became friends.

In his later years, Les spoke wistfully about the time he and Lila shared together in those early days of their marriage and the early days of his career.  When they had the time, they played canasta with friends, went to the cinema, took in shows at the Waikiki hotels… They felt like they were on perpetual vacation!

A little more than a year after they’d arrived, Lila became pregnant.  She had carried on her job as statistician until, as she said, she decided to make a few statistics of her own.

Mr. Keiter? McCaw, Line One

The Keiter’s thought they’d be settling in for a while, but it wasn’t to be.  J. Elroy McCaw called again.  This time, he offered Keiter the sports director position at KYA Radio in San Francisco.  Les and Lila agonized over the decision, but since it would be a big move up for Les’ career, they decided to bid their idillic Hawaiian life “so long for now.”

Eight months into her pregnancy, having been given the go-ahead by her doctor, Lila and Les flew to San Francisco to set up their third home in as many years.