Lights, camera, action! Kristina Lockwood lights the way for KHON2.

It was hard to put a finger on the force behind KHON2’s energetic vibe during my studio visit, but I had a feeling that Kristina Lockwood, its president and general manager—who assumed her GM role in May 2013—had a lot to do with it. Stylishly dressed in nude patent pumps and a crisply tailored white dress, Lockwood meant business and mastered the art of professional flair. She chronicles her road to success, which fortunately seems to have been paved by those eager to see her make it to the top.

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photography by Nathalie Walker

Lockwood was born in the Philippines, and after a brief stint in Chicago, her family settled in Hawai‘i, a place they all still call home. From a young age, her mother, a social worker, and father, a doctor, strongly supported the dreams of their three offspring (one son, two daughters). The motivation of Lockwood’s youth, an innate work ethic and curious passion, still blazes strong today.

But she is also quick to acknowledge her mentors’ roles in her achievement.

Lockwood graduated from Kaiser High School and went to study at Brigham Young University in Utah before returning to O‘ahu a year later. “It was hard to be away from home,” she shares. Degree aside, her towering ambition soon landed Lockwood her first job: a MidWeek account executive.

“I was all of 19. I hadn’t finished school, and I didn’t really know what I was applying for,” she laughs. “I was so young, but I loved it. They were great to me; they mentored me. And Dianne Pereira, who had worked there for a long time, was tremendous … I was very lucky.”

Though professionally established before most university students complete sophomore year, Lockwood intended to finish her undergraduate degree. She enrolled in Hawai‘i Pacific University’s night and Saturday school, graduating in 1999 with a B.A. in Communications.

“For me, my career was my priority, and school was important. I was determined to get my degree. I thought it was so important to have an education,” Lockwood expresses, admitting that balancing work and school was a challenge she’s proud to have triumphed. “I didn’t really need it at that point, but I had committed to it, and I wanted to complete it. HPU was fabulous, because they offer so many programs for working adults; it was a really good fit for me.”

Lockwood made her landmark transition from print to broadcast after a client suggested she meet Rick Blangiardi, another early mentor, who was the GM at KGMB9 (a Honolulu CBS affiliate) at the time. She was only 21.

“It was a hard transition. I was young, and I wanted to prove myself. And I was willing to work hard,” Lockwood states, expressing gratitude for these early opportunities. “I’ve been fortunate to work with such good people who have helped me in my career.”

Lockwood’s diligence continued to boost her up the corporate ladder. After a stint as an account executive at KGMB9, Lockwood worked with KITV for eight years, where she was promoted from account executive to national sales manager.

“It was my first leadership role. It was very exciting at the time. I loved that job; it was fabulous,” Lockwood exclaims, glowing. Soon, Blangiardi called her in as national sales manager for, what was at the time, KHON and KGMB. “I thought it was such a unique opportunity to be selling two stations … when the station ended up selling KHON, they sold the whole TV division.”

After the split, Lockwood was approached to be the general sales manager at KGMB, where she served before taking on the Golden State, a much larger market.

“It was so natural. I was here one day, and I was there the next. The people were so welcoming,” Lockwood shares of her transition. “It was exciting that I didn’t know anyone, and I felt like I had to prove myself again. I set out to meet everyone in the market, get involved and be part of the community.”

During her run in California, Lockwood dabbled in sports sponsorships, a field where she stepped up to bat—off home plate.

“Honolulu is ranked in the 70th market; San Diego’s in the 28th. It was kind of hard to break in,” she reveals. “I ended up getting a job at Cox Media, and I started as a local sales manager. I worked really hard and ended up getting promoted to director of sales for California.”

Thanks to her new role, Lockwood became a huge baseball fan. Her favorite team? The San Diego Padres. “I had never been to a professional baseball game until I moved there. I was probably going to 50 or 60 of … 80 home games,” she says with a grin. “It was kind of crazy but really fun.”

Reminiscing on her life in California, Lockwood recalls Cox’s tremendous training and development, a cornerstone in her career advancement: “They focused on leadership, helping to empower young leaders and to give them the tools and skills to be successful.”

These same progressive values—which Lockwood cites she was “fortunate to have”—are strongholds in her current work with KHON2. An exemplary leader, she values others’ success above her own.

Returning to Hawai‘i, to her former employer and many of her former co-workers, marked a glorious homecoming for Lockwood.

“I never felt more welcome than I did that first day, and we just got to work. We’re very focused on improving our station overall, top to bottom, and making it a great place to work,” says Lockwood of her forward-looking groundwork. “Creating a great environment for our employees, where they’re excited about coming to work—they have tools; they have training; they have development; they have people who care about them and want them to succeed.”

Lockwood is indeed an aspiring woman, who at her root, wants to help KHON2 and its employees achieve success—something she acknowledges early mentors, like Pereira and Blangiardi, for instilling in her. “The common theme between the two of them is that they always had time to talk about what was important, how to solve problems and what to do next.”

And in her debut general manager role, Lockwood acknowledges she is far from finished learning, both in and outside the studio.

“I learn a lot from my colleagues … Lori Silva, our news director, has helped me a lot, and she’s a tremendous partner. She has a great eye. She has great ideas, and I think the direction that we’re going with our news department is very positive.”

Since Lockwood entered her role, KHON2 has modernized itself in many facets: an HD digital makeover, beautiful new studio, a motivated troupe of new employees, focus on accountability journalism and sound mission in ‘Working for Hawai‘i.’

“We want to serve the community and provide the news and information that they need on all platforms. It’s not only about being the No. 1 station in the market, but about being the No. 1 news source on all platforms.”

Achieving this goal for Lockwood means investing in employees, fostering a harmonious workplace, staying on top of trends and accelerating in the digital realm.

“It’s constantly changing, so what was ‘new and improved’ a year ago is old, and now, they have something better,” says Lockwood of technology. “Across the board for our employees, we’ve been doing more in terms of training and developing them so that they understand the opportunities with digital.”

Another cornerstone of KHON2’s achievement under Lockwood’s reign stems from internal investment. “We’ve looked at how we can create opportunities for our employees to grow, so there have been a lot of internal promotions within the past year, and I’m really proud of some of the people who have stepped into new roles and are doing things that they haven’t done before—and are doing them really well.”

As for what to expect when you turn to KHON2 or click on www.khon2.com, Lockwood says it’s about service: uncovering problems in communities and achieving results. “At the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to accomplish, and we want to make Hawai‘i a better place,” she assures. “We want to do our part. I feel very, very passionate about that, and our newsroom feels very passionate about that.”

Lockwood’s journey to managing the Honolulu FOX affiliate of KHON-TV and CW affiliate KHON-D2 is indeed motivating. Her charming demeanor a natural trait, it is unsurprising that she has a justly active and fulfilling life offset. An ace at prioritizing and proud mother of two sons, ages 13 and 11, she enjoys athletic pursuits and manages to squeeze in running—and occasionally nurturing her love for travel—into a jammed 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. regimen.

In studio, Lockwood doesn’t divulge details but assures there’s lots more to come from KHON2, and soon.

“Right now, my focus is on making KHON the best place to work and really creating a positive environment for our employees and giving them the tools to be successful … they are our brand; they are KHON. It cannot just be me; it has to be everyone.”