Founder and voice of Guam talk radio

Jon Alan Anderson (1942 – 2019) was best known as the host of The Breakfast Show on K-57 radio from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

Career

Anderson moved to Guam in 1977 to become vice president and general manager of Pacific Telestations Inc., also known as KUAM TV and Radio.

Prior to coming to Guam Anderson had worked throughout the Pacific, including jobs in Hawai`i (weekend anchor for KHVH-TV in Honolulu), American Samoa (1975 – 1977, general manager/news anchor of KVZK), and at the headquarters for the public information office of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands headquarters on Capitol Hill in Saipan (1970 – 1973).

Before starting his journey in the Pacific, Anderson worked for years in radio on the mainland, including a stint at a Washington, DC, station, where he eventually took over the night show as “Jack Velvet,” the name the station had assigned to that time slot.

In 1981, Anderson, Rick Wall, Dicky Wong, and Andy Gayle bought KATB-AM in Guam, changed the call letters to KGUM-AM, and branded it as K-57. The station featured popular radio personalities, top 40 hit music, heavy promotions, and introduced a unique news and traffic approach called “On The Go.” Anderson was company president and also delivered newscasts on the morning show. 

In 1984, he decided to launch Guam’s first program to combine news and talk. He launched the morning radio show on 14 January 1985, and callers responded, helping fill four hours daily.

As the host of The Breakfast Show, Anderson kept the island informed about issues of the day, covering the big stories and events on island, as well as the daily goings-on. He also pursued more live coverage of breaking news, sporting events, retail promotions and music concerts.

Eventually, Anderson converted K-57 to a full-time news-talk format, and was on-air for more than 20 years.

He also anchored the evening news on television with Pacific News Center, a subsidiary of Sorensen Media Group, which had earlier gained majority ownership of K-57.

Anderson left the organization in 2006 to take a job with Bridge Capital LLC in Guam and Saipan, becoming the spokesman for a slot-machine gaming initiative on Guam’s ballot that year. 

Four years later he returned to the media as the editor-in-chief of the Marianas Variety, Guam edition, and led the news team until his retirement in 2014. 

Personal life

Anderson was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on 5 September 1942, to Vern and Martha Anderson. His sister Jackie was 11 years old at the time.

In high school, he had already developed such a strong interest in broadcasting that his teacher would let him out of class 15 minutes early, so he could ride his bike to the local radio station to be on the air by the time the seniors got into their cars to drive home.

Anderson married Beatrice ‘Kamila’ Akamu, in 1967 while he was a weekend news anchor for for KHVH-TV in Honolulu. They had two children: Debbie, born in 1968 in Hawai`i, and Darren, born in 1969 in Los Angeles. The family then lived in Saipan for four years, in American Samoa for two, and then moved to Guam in 1977, where Anderson became the general manager of Pacific Telestations and news anchor of KUAM-TV. The family lived on Guam for five years, and son Keoki was born on the island in 1979. In 1983, Jon and Kamila divorced, and Kamila and the three children moved back to Hawai`i.

In 1992, Anderson married Mahina (Mahie) Leonard, with whom he raised two children, Tony and Maka Borja, and to whom he was married for 26 years until his death.

Just as in his work in television and radio, Anderson enjoyed performing in his private life, too. He sang in the Guam Symphony Chorale, on whose board he served for 15 years. He acted in plays such as “My Fair Lady” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” He also emceed Miss World Guam and Miss Universe Guam pageants, and was the official pronouncer of words for Guam’s annual Scripps (formerly Scripps Howard) Regional Spelling Bee.

Anderson served as president of the Guam Press Club and on the board of the Guam Symphony Society for nearly 15 years. He liked playing bridge, and he was a proud member of The Rotary Club of Guam. He also was a University of Hawai`i alumnus and served in the Hawai`i Air National Guard.

Death

Anderson had planned to spend his retirement traveling throughout the US, producing media content by documenting his experiences and interviewing the people he met.

However, Parkinson’s disease prevented him from doing so. He began showing symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease in 2012, and died seven years later on 1 February 2019 at the Guam Regional Medical Center. After his diagnosis with Parkinson’s, he became a public advocate of a treatment called deep-brain stimulation, which, toward the end of his life, greatly reduced the shaking and slurred speech associated with the disease.

Hundreds of people bid farewell to Anderson and celebrated his life at a memorial service at Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove on 17 February 2019.

Legacy

In honor of his life’s work, his family started a scholarship in his name at the University of Guam. The Jon A. Anderson Journalism Scholarship, a tuition assistance program, aims to allow aspiring newspaper reporters, television broadcasters, and talk-show hosts to be mentored and educated by the very best in the field.

He also posthumously received The Ancient Order of CHamorri award for his years of service to the island. The award is the highest civilian honor given by the government of Guam to non-native residents of Guam.