Carpenter nailed it — and developed his own voice, too

It is debatable when Mark Carpenter‘s broadcast career started. We can say it was four years ago, when he made the most of a Society of Professional Journalists internship at Hawaii News Now as a senior at Hawaii Pacific University.

But I like to go further back, to when Mark was 16 and a student at Kamehameha, when he made his radio debut. The best part of the story is that he did it as “June Jones.” Mark called in to a sports talk show and pretended to be the University of Hawaii football coach. The impersonation was good enough that he had the host going for several minutes before it was realized he was an imposter.

Mark has come a long way since then … he can also do great impersonations of Rich Miano, Bobby Curran, Bob Coolen and others. But, more importantly, he developed his own voice and moved up the ranks faster than any local sportscaster I can recall. From that internship four years ago, Mark became associate producer, assignment editor, reporter and then sports anchor. After his mentor Mike Cherry left a few months ago, he’s been running the sports department and training newcomers Francesca Weems and Taryn Hatcher.

“It was the perfect cocktail of hard work and perfect timing,” Mark said.

Unfortunately for us, Mark’s final sports reports in Hawaii — at least for now — are this evening, at 6 and 10. Mark is leaving, but for the best reason: love. He is marrying his girlfriend Ashley this weekend, and they will be moving with Ashley’s son, Aydan, to California next month. Ashley, an ICU nurse, received a rare opportunity to train at an anesthesia school in the Bay Area.

“Only a dozen people in the entire country get accepted (to the program Ashley is entering),” Mark said. “And I also feel this is the right time in my career to make a jump into a bigger market.”

Mark doesn’t have a job lined up, but he has the talent to succeed in any market. Perhaps I am biased, because we are related: Mark is my cousin Monica‘s son. But others agree this guy’s got the potential; I keep forgetting he’s just 24 — one of the reasons is he has every line from “The Godfather” memorized.

That’s probably due to tutoring from his dad, Bill, a longtime Hawaii radio broadcaster and great guy. Monica is customer service manager of Zippy’s. She’s very cool, too, even though she won’t tell me the secret ingredient of their chili.

“My parents were my biggest professional influence because they instilled in me the importance of hard work, always being respectful, and people skills,” Mark said.

Also, when I think about it, Monica might actually be the person who got Mark started in TV: He appeared in a Zippy’s/Napoleon Bakery commercial scarfing a pastry, right around that time “June Jones” made his phone call to the radio station.