TEDDI MEDINA / 1926-2014DJ and journalist paved way for women in media
By Timothy Hurley / firstname.lastname@example.org
Teddi Medina was a trailblazer and hard-charging Filipina spark plug who excelled in Hawaii radio and other media in an era when few women did.
“She was a tour de force,” John Noland said of his mother, who died July 17 at Pali Momi Medical Center at the age of 88.
Born in 1926, she was the middle of nine children to immigrant Filipino parents at Schofield Barracks, where her father played clarinet in the Army band. She was 15 when she watched from the roof of her house as Japanese planes attacked Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.
Medina would go on to become a nightclub singer in San Francisco and Hawaii in the 1950s, appearing at such Honolulu venues as the Queen’s Surf and Lau Yee Chai’s.
“She was a wonderful singer and lovely entertainer,” said vocalist Jimmy Borges, who knew Medina when they both sang at Forbidden City nightclub in San Francisco. “She was a very kind person. She always had that aloha.”
Even as she was performing in Honolulu, she launched her next career, becoming Hawaii’s first federally licensed female disc jockey in 1952 at a time when you still needed a Federal Communications Commission license to operate radio equipment.
Known for interviewing celebrities and politicians and starting each show with the line, “Are you ready for Teddi?” she worked on and off at a variety of radio stations on Oahu and Maui until the 1980s.
Her first job was at KIKI in Honolulu.
“It was morning DJ,” she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2004. “Imagine this: I’m singing at night. I get off at about 2 o’clock, go home and sleep for about two or three hours, run down to the station at 5 so I can open at 6.
“My mother always said to me, ‘Some day you’re going to pay for this,’” she said, laughing.
Medina didn’t stop at radio. She worked in public relations and as a journalist, becoming editor of both the Filipino Herald of Hawaii and later the San Francisco Banner in the late ’70s.
She also was a freelance writer in both California and Hawaii, with her stories appearing in both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser.
Broadcast personality Emme Tomimbang recalled that she looked up to Medina at a time when there were few Filipina role models in the media. She called Medina a mentor who never failed to offer words of encouragement.
“I was privileged to have her cheering me on,” said Tomimbang, who also started in radio. “She inspired me to continue to do what I was doing.”
Medina spent much of her later years writing a book about what she called the golden era of Hawaii’s media, spanning the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. She interviewed more than 200 people, including the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Star-Bulletin Editor Bud Smyser, Advertiser Editor George Chaplin and other media figures such as Bob Sevey, Chuck Turner, Tim Tindall, Eddie Sherman and Cobey Black.
But while she finished the research and wrote 700 pages, a stroke and illness prevented her from completing the editing process, said Noland, son of Medina’s first husband, Gorman Noland, a Realtor who had served in the Territorial Legislature.
John Noland, a veteran of Honolulu television and radio himself, said his siblings have vowed to see the project through to publication.
Services will be private.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased