TV personality (and new MidWeek columnist) Sebastian Rodriguez is the man to welcome the locals to the entertainment capital of the world.
It’s no surprise that Las Vegas is known as Hawaii’s ninth island. From fascinating casinos to sensational shows to delicious restaurants, there is something for everyone – including locals who have flocked to the entertainment capital of the world for decades.
But how can Las Vegas fanatics solve their problems from over 2,600 miles away, at a time when travelers may be reluctant to get on a plane?
Enter MidWeek’s new columnist Sebastian Rodriguez, whose opening article can be found on page 20.
In Ninth Island Connection, readers can look forward to news about everything that’s happening in Hawaii’s favorite mainland city.
“We’re going to give people details of what’s new in Vegas: favorite local restaurants, big Hawaiian jackpot winners, the latest casino games, the latest shows,” said Rodriguez. “When people plan their trips, we hope our column helps them.”
And Rodriguez is the right man for the job. He is hosting a weekly Las Vegas lifestyle television show of the same title that recounts all of the happenings in downtown, along the strip, and more.
“We do our best to present local companies with local ties,” says Rodriguez. “It’s fun and we want to do our part to help them.”
The idea for the Ninth Island Connection show came about two years ago after Rodriguez and his wife Kristine returned to Hawaii after a vacation in Las Vegas.
“How many people would we come back and miss,” recalls Rodriguez, who also runs his Ninth Island marketing company.
At that point, the wheels were turning for a TV show specifically aimed at a Hawaiian audience looking to learn more about the new attractions, restaurants, and things to do in the ever-bustling city.
Rodriguez is the face of the show as the host, but behind the scenes, Kristine, a former social worker at Hawai’i Youth Correctional Facility, works hard to reach out to clients, coordinate interviews, get b-rolls and pictures – basically doing anything What Goes With It The show ran smoothly. Although they mostly work in the background, viewers can still expect to see Kristine on the show as she joins Rodriguez for fun adventures in Las Vegas. Viewers can also look forward to seeing returning guests like real estate agent Randy Hatada, who is originally from Hawaii.
“She’s such a big part of the show,” says Rodriguez of his wife, noting that they undertook this endeavor with no production or television experience.
“And Randy, he just knows everyone in Vegas. Every local, Randy knows her. He’s helped families move from Hawaii to Vegas. “
With a growing fan base locally and in Las Vegas, Rodriguez and Kristine moved to the Green Valley Ranch in Henderson on Thanksgiving to spend more time on the show. While they’ll miss their favorite local spots like 9th Ave Rock House and Kaimana Beach, moving was the best bet for keeping Ninth Island Connection going – for both print and television.
“It’s difficult to make a weekly Hawaiian show when the content is in Vegas,” said Rodriguez.
But Hawaii will always have a special place in their hearts, especially since daughter Anais – a young University of Hawaii in Mānoa grad – still lives here and works for a local PR company. Now that the operation is entirely in Vegas, Rodriguez and Kristine are in the heart of where all of the action takes place. They name the city center as one of their favorites and cite the thriving arts district, reminiscent of Kaka’ako.
“There are a lot of small business owners out there too, and you really have this sense of community that supports these local businesses,” explains Rodriguez.
Visitors who want to feel even more comfortable in Las Vegas can stop by the California Hotel & Casino – 21-year-olds and older can play the old slot machines that offer coins – or visit the classically remodeled El Cortez Hotel and Casino.
Meanwhile, fans of the Strip can take the Ferris wheel and try ziplining on Linq Promenade (another Rodrigueze favorite) and visit the restaurants and shops in the area. It’s cool tidbits like this one that readers and viewers can expect.
“The content will be different,” assures Rodriguez so that Vegas lovers can fill in both mediums.
Though travel stalled for most of 2020, Ninth Island Connection has kept viewers entertained and has grown by leaps and bounds since its first episode on Feb.26. The original plan was to broadcast on Wednesdays on K5, but over a period of about six months it filled a niche here and in Nevada. Ninth Island Connection now airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on K5 and Sundays at 2 p.m. on KGMB and three times a week on Cox Cable in Vegas.
It’s proof that Hawaii will always love Las Vegas from afar.
“People are home, people are worried, and we give them a little getaway every week through our TV show,” added Rodriguez.
Learn more about the show online at ninthislandconnection.com.
PHOTOS courtesy of KRISTINE RODRIGUEZ
ILLUSTRATION BY MARK GALACGAC
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