By Wayne Harada
After four decades of behind-the-scenes direction and action, TV director John Wray is retiring on Jan. 27.
That’s bad and good news.
Bad, because Wray has been a dedicated mover-and-shaker of so many television staples on two stations. Earlier at KGMB, currently at KITV.
Good, because he and I have talked about retirement over the years and stepping down will mean a lifestyle with less stress and a new destination. Wray will turn in his city workaday regimen for a countrified lifestyle as he relocates to Waimea on the Big Island in March, to settle in the family home of his wife, Margo Burlingame Wray.
Betcha Wray will soon bring his ray of sunshine to the active performing arts community and climate there. He hopes to get back into action “in any way I can, " so you folks in Kohala and Kamuela should reach out and solicit his support.
“It’s been a great 40-year ride for me, 16 years at KGMB directing Phil Arnone’s shows,” said Wray. Aside from a five-year gap spent working in Oregon, Wray also put in 20 years at KITV.
You may not have known his name or recognized his face (unless you worked with him on a television project), but you’ll certainly remember with glee and joyh the parade of his varied TV projects.
At KGMB, the CBS affiliate, Wray’s credits include such benchmark shows as “Checkers & Pogo,” “Homegrown” music specials with Ron Jacobs, comedian Andy Bumatai’s “High School Daze,” the youth-oriented “Hawaii’s Superkids” and more. He directed KGMB’s news programs in the era of Bob Jones, Tim Tindall, Ken Kashiwahara, Linda Coble and Leslie Wilcox, plus Joe Moore when he was a sportscaster. There were “Rainbow Basketball” home and road games, plus the popular wrestling matches with Ed Francis and Lord “Tally Ho” Blears, and the first University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcan basketball series, when “Russ Francis flew tapes of the games back to Honolulu because there was no satellite TV availability,” said Wray. Plus the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in the era of Krash Kealoha.
At KITV, the ABC affiliate, his legacy includes 18 years of directing “Merrie Monarch” coverage from Hilo, numerous Miss Hawaii pageants, and Keiki Hula competitions. Plus hundreds of local TV commercials, involving “folks who’d never been in front of a TV camera before.”
That’s quite a credit roll.
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