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It’s been a while since I last added to my story. I keep thinking of things I should write down as I’m doing other things and away from the computer… Like driving to or from work. Often times, like right now, I start writing when I know full well I’m close to time to go to work. So I’ll just spew out a few things here, then add/subtract and/or fix grammar etc etc etc… One thing sprang into my brain was that I should acknowledge (without mentioning any names) some of the more notable female influences in my life. Then I thought- “This is going to be hard discussing these influences without giving away their identities. You’ll recall earlier I mentioned my dear mothers directive to me as I was boarding the airplane: She said: “Stay away from those native girls!” So, starting from my first day on the island I proceeded to do just the exact opposite. I didn’t say it out loud but I was thinking that is one piece of advice that I should totally ignore. Oddly enough, the one girl I had the most bad luck with was a mainland “haole” girl I had known back in Michigan and I will step on the brakes right here as to mentioning anything regarding that nightmare of a relationship… that could be a totally different book which will never get written. I’ve spent the greater part of the last 25 years trying to forget that dark part of my past..

This first young lady I happened to meet worked at the lunch counter inside a drug store that was directly across the street from the Motel where I was staying temporarily while seeking more permanent digs. The only thing I can say about this enchantingly beautiful young local girl was that she appeared in and out of my life sporadically up until a just a few years ago. Then she seemed to disappear completely. Now, I love a good mystery but this young lady looked, acted and spoke as mysteriously like she just walked out of a Harold Ramis movie. She totally had me in her clutches. This lady continues to haunt me right up to today after she mysteriously disappeared from my life, suddenly, with no reason given. Then out of the blue many months, sometime years later, she would call and we would immediately pick up our “unique” friendship and carry on like nothing happened- until she, just as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone. Again. No returned calls, no answered letters. (This was way before e-mail came along.) I thought was it maybe something I did or said? But I never did get a satisfactory answer to that question. When she decided to come back into my life I was so happy that it never dawned on me to ask her why she disappeared in the first place… like I said… mysterious. Where she is now I have no idea… Lots of speculation, but no substantial reasons have presented themselves to me. Now. Back to the subject at hand…

After my first relationship ended I managed to find other friends of the female persuasion. But I have to say this to clear the air so-to-speak: Contrary to what the general public may believe, even as a local celebrity I found it to be EXTREMELY difficult to hook up with any young women. Even figuring in my popularity at the time. You must understand, in those days, the late 1960’s radio was held with a great deal more respect and esteem. AM radio was it. FM had not yet taken root in this market of 26 thousand people. The announcers were live. There were no computers. Us Deejays had to be entertaining and able to think on our feet in order to meet a deadline of just about every three and a half minutes during a four hour shift. That was exactly the amount of time a 45 rpm vinyl record played before fading to an end. We had to have something either informative and/or clever to say between the tunes and the commercial announcements. I came to the conclusion that largely due to my own terribly strong shyness, combined with the fact that I was very “picky” as to whom I would “hang out” with, I just couldn’t find a girl who was adventurous and accepting enough to date me. Even on an island that boasted such a massive amount of beautiful young prospects from which one could chose. That said, I can honestly estimate I may have hooked up with maybe four different girls during that 25 year period and in retrospect, I should have married any one of them. Yes people it’s true. Believe it or not, I was mostly a sexually frustrated, lonely young man back in the late 60’s early 70’s despite enjoying the benefits of a “captive” audience. I should even mention neither of the two ladies I actually did end up marrying, never worked out. The first marriage however,ended peacefully and in friendship to this day. And I am happy to say produced a daughter any father would be proud to have to raised. The second marriage ended in a unmitigated disaster. The end result was so damaging it basically rendered me incapable of continuing my career. I struggled for another six years on a new upstart radio station owned by Ivan Dixon, who played the radio man in the classic TV series “Hogan’s Heroes”. For six glorious years I was successful doing morning drive at KONI FM but by then I began to see the writing on the wall and eventually decided to end my career on a high note. Since then I have tried to regain my former glory, but to no avail. FM took over the airwaves and computers took all the live announcers away. It was a much more efficient way to boost the bottom line when you didn’t have such a large payroll to meet. You don’t have to pay a computer. For me, the 1990’s was the decade when radio died. My career died with it.

I think I also mentioned before, that the reason for my “popularity” on the island from the very beginning, was in large part due to the fact that Maui had just two radio stations from which to chose. Both of which had no real programming to speak of that would appeal to Maui’s teenagers. The advertising money was mostly garnered by boasting the largest numbers of listeners in the “adults 25 to 54 years of age” segment of the population. The younger generation on Maui before I arrived, had to get their kind of music by listening through the static and the fading in and out of the Honolulu AM stations, some 90 miles to the northwest of the three island county of Maui. Back then the top three stations catering to the younger generation were on the AM band: KPOI, KKUA and KORL. All in the Honolulu area. In 1967, the year I hit the airwaves on KMVI, a local and very powerful radio station combined with the kind of music I played, (A mixture of Top 40 and rock) the kids now had a local source of music that appealed to their taste, so you might say I became popular by default. Not because I had any talent to speak of, but because they could pick up KMVI loud and clear practically everywhere in Maui County. No static. No fading. So naturally, they began to listen to my six hour nightly show static free. Please believe me as I try to write this with genuine modesty, I think at the time, the only people who thought I had any talent at all was myself. So naturally I took advantage of my perceived “monopoly” on Top 40 music heard on the radio in Maui County as best I knew how, and managed to last at the same station for a tenure that lasted 25 wonderful years. Then as years passed, as more stations came on the air with disc jockeys like myself, largely due to the increased competition for audience my popularity started to wane. I battled (and marginally won) the ratings war between the now 10 plus competing stations all the way through the year 2,000. At that time I realized I was no longer the biggest fish in the pond and decided after so long, that maybe it was time to hang it up on a high note and try something else. I will spotlight those days later on. Hint: I discovered the internet and a whole differnt but just as devoted audience.

The fondest memories of my glory days in radio on Maui were the various promotions, contests and special programming I created on my show, which I eventually dubbed as “Nitetime Radio” which aired from six pm right after the evening news block until midnight. I gave away records as prizes for my listeners, which I was forced to purchase with my own money. Eventually when the Honolulu record distributors suddenly noticed this whole new market in the “outer islands”, I started receiving plenty of promotional records, the ones I decided to play on the air I kept, the rest I gave away on the air. I featured different genres of rock during the week mixed in with the regular format. There was “Blue Monday” featuring soul and rhythm and blues hits. “Two-fer Tuesdays” featuring two songs in a row by the current offerings of the more popular recording acts, “Weird Wednesdays” featured some of the”funnier” offerings of music, including some comedy cuts and novelty recordings sprinkled among the regular top 40 stuff. Thursday was named “Friday Eve” and I added more “party” music including the hottest, more “danceable” hits. Then Friday was Moody Blues night where beginning at around 10:30PM I would track through an entire Moody Blues album, both sides totally uninterrupted. They had eight different “concept” albums by that time and I just rotated through all eight then simply start again at the beginning. Eventually that morphed into the “Feature Album of the Week”. Which was based on the latest new releases from the more popular recording artists. Nitetime Radio was where Maui heard the Beatle White Album for the first time. Totally tracked all the way through with no interruption. I claimed “firsties” on introducing the Beatles “Abbey Road” LP, plus other new releases from groups like Aerosmith, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendriks, The Doors, Credence Clearwater Revival and Cream. I set myself apart from regular top 40 stations by playing only unedited tracks from popular recording artists that also released their more popular tracks as “edited for time” 45 rpm records known as “promotional” recordings especially for Top 40 radio These edited tracks allowed less time for the tunes and more time available each hour for commercials. The only exception I can think of for me was when “Inna-gadda-da-vida” by Iron Butterfly came out and the unedited version was timed at over 17 minutes long. I played it on “bathroom breaks” but other than that I pretty much stayed with the shorter 4 minute edit. This approach seemed to work as callers would let me know the six minute version of “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells was much cooler than the shorter version played on competing stations. I let them think they were getting cheated by not getting the whole song. It was like that with all the other acts as well. I recall that Rare Earth had an unedited version of “Celebrate” which included an incredible drum solo that you could only hear on my show. A few minutes of keyboard music on the Doors track “Light My Fire was also an exclusive on Nitetime Radio. There were lots of other album tracks released as edited 45 rpm “hits” like that as well. I offered a playlist made up of unedited versions of top 40 hits too numerous to mention. It really helped set my show apart from any competition that happened along.

I also got involved with the local high schools and offered the journalism classes of each of the five high schools on the island 5 minutes of airtime each Monday and Wednesday every week for airing the news from their schools. Totally written and presented by the students under the supervision of their teachers. I got invited to dee jay more and more high school dances and private parties which helped me keep the rent paid and food on the table. I engineered hours of programming during the annual 4-H Radio Day. Where the 4-H youngsters would sell ads and dee jay their own shows. The youngster read their ads and announced the tunes from studio B and I did all the “grunt work” in the control room. Which included cueing up the recordings and pushing any buttons that need pushing.

After I graduated to afternoon drive at the station, I began doing more and more “remotes” from the store fronts of various businesses. I loved meeting the listeners who would pop in for a visit during the broadcast to say hi. I recall these live shows direct from say, a local grocery store or the grand opening of a new retail shop were getting more and more popular lending towards the station to invest heavily into a “Mobile Studio” which was a medium size house trailer coverted into a complete air conditioned radio studio with a glassed in front, where the people could see the Dee jay working in real time. And what a novelty that was. Not only for the listeners who happened by, but for us the disc jockeys and news readers. It was an unforgettable experience to be able to broadcast live from the Maui County Fair. Not only did we get a chance to perform in the mobile studio for those who attended the fair but we got free admittance and all the food we could eat. Well, time passed and all good things come to an end and for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, the remote broadcasts became fewer and farther between and eventually stopped happening altogether. Another era of live community involved radio comes to an end. All this was happening, of course, after I ended “Nitetime Radio” in 1975 and the mainstream broadcaster part of my career began. The Maui Publishing Company made a terribled mistake, in my opinion when they decided to sell the station to a mainland radio group out of Eugene, Oregon. I graduated to the afternoon drive slot, 3 until 7pm Monday through Friday until 1993, doing what deejays do. Being the most congenial personality we could be, playing the music they wanted to hear and battling the other similarly formatted radio stations for the lion’s share of the audience and advertising revenue. During my 25 year tenure, I broadcast from three different studio locations including the old quonset huts we broadcast from, from 1947 until the sale in 1985. From 1967 to 1985 I broadcast from the old quonset hut buildings under that majestic 455 foot radio tower. The station shared the place with The Maui Publishing Company which put out the daily Maui Newspaper. Now those building are long gone. Many great memories and good friends were made there, but eventually we had to vacate the building because after KMVI was taken over by Obie Broadcasting of Maui. Which owned an AM/FM combo in Eugene, Oregon and the new owners needed to find new digs. We had to be temporarily located on Dairy road where Savers used to be before we finally moved into what we thought would be our new permanent location on Waiehu Beach Road. It was at this location where I discovered how smiling faces sometimes don’t tell the truth. And, that salt and metal don’t mix.

The story goes that the station was at it’s peak in popularity having led the market in billing and audience numbers since the old girl went on the air in 1947. In fact I’ll never forget the party our general manager threw for the staff when the sales team broke the six figure billing month. That’s over 100,000 dollars in advertising. No local station had ever broken that number in all the years I can remember. Even with the advent of FM in the market that started with KAOI-FM in 1974 and by this year 1985, we had four other FM stations to contend with. One of which was really giving us a run for our money. Eventually Maui ended up with four AM stations which by the time KMVI FM went on the air, all had their own FM outlets. This plus counting all the new stand alone FM stations that went on the air during this time, the competition for audience was more intense than ever in Maui’s broadcasting History. Absolutely cut throat competition was the rule of the day. I eventually ended up doing morning drive on our FM station which was at the time offering a satellite fed Adult Rock format and my show was live from a brand new studio. I was instrumental in helping to build. After hours on my back under the mixer console and crawling through the false ceiling running 12 pair cable and hooking up various other items like two reel to reel tape decks, two turntables, two CD players and of course, the microphone… Plus the one thing that would be the eventual end of my career, the computer. The machine that handled the satellite fed entertainment and the infamous cassette deck automation system which the commercials were stored on for playback when called for. Truth be told, this system was the worst automation system one could possibly imagine. Of all the different automation systems they could chose from, why this one? It was constantly breaking down every other day, creating a living nightmare for the engineering staff.

Speaking of engineering nightmares, our new location had it’s own special drawbacks we were about to discover the hard way… The building was almost right on the water near Kahului Harbor and the salt air seemed to quickly melt away all the metal utilized in building the satellite dish and it’s supporting steel bracing that brought in the programming from the mainland. Along with the studio-to-transmitter antenna that carried the AM programming from our new studios on Waiehu Beach Road to our original transmitter site up by that same aforementioned majestic 455 foot tower at the old quonset hut buildings. Now used exclusively by the Maui News, our former owners… but still housing our new Nautel solid state 5 kilowatt AM transmitter. The other nightmare was keeping the studio-to -transmitter link from the studio to the FM transmitter site. Which consisted of a 3 kilowatt transmitter housed in a thrown together wood framed aluminum corrugate shack which was up in Kula near an old Union 76 gas station. It was my first responsibility as a staff engineer, my duties were maintaining the transmitter and keeping it on the air, along with maintaining the AM and FM studios, as well as the newsroom and production studio equipment. alster on the FM station was later upgraded to 50,000 watts and the location was moved to Ulupalakua. Wearing many hats, I was also the Program director for the FM station. It was a very productive couple of years.

It was during one of my live morning shows when the sales manager and the general manager both flew into the studio, all smiles, congratulating me for a great ratings book in the demographic we were shooting for. Men and women 25 to 54 years of age. I was kind of proud for hitting those demographics and being mostly responsible for the stations early success. But me thinks I did too good of a job as my fortunes were about to make an abrupt 90 degree turn- not for the better… A few weeks after the big party I mention earlier, I had just finished my show when “Mr. Ego”, our high strung, insecure program director of the AM and AM morning show super star asked me if I would allow him to take me to lunch. Hmmmmm. Not good… Not good at all. Now, any long-time disc jockey out there knows exactly what it means when the boss wants to treat you to a “free lunch”. I guess he was expecting me to make a scene, which is why he wanted me out of the building when he told me I was fired. Declining as gracefully as I could, I just smiled and said “Save your lunch money, Not to worry, I’ll go peacefully.” And that’s exactly what I did. For the first time ever in my long career I found myself without a job. A job I loved so much. Now, you must be asking yourself the same question I was asking myself right after he lowered the axe. Why after doing such a great job doing morning drive on the new FM station, did he suddenly want me gone? The reason, I found out many months later, The scuttle-butt was, I was killing him in the ratings. It never crossed my mind at the time, but it added up quite quite nicely thank-you-very-much. KMVI AM was THE number one station on Maui in all dayparts: morning, midday and afternoons… Now the company’s own new FM outlet was starting to give the AM side some grief. Well, the “radio gods” were with me as I had the last laugh. Very soon after I left, the station owners sold the stations to another local radio group. The new owners let go the entire KMVI staff, got rid of the equipment and plugged the transmitter into a satellite fed ESPN sports network. It was the utter destruction of a once proud and committed station and it’s employees. The station went from a six figure billing powerhouse to become a pain in the new owner’s ass just sucking up electricity and not generating a dime of revenue. Idiots. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what exactly what they wanted. To rid the island of a company who’s billing was taking that money out of the market. Out of the competition’s pocket. Advertising money they wanted for themselves. Well friends, that’s show biz. And I needed a vacation.

When I walked out the door I never looked back. In fact I was living out on the wind swept north shore country side of Maui. totally off the grid in a house that over looked Kealii Point, less than a mile from the world famous surfing area known as “Jaws”. For roughly eleven years I enjoyed generating my own electricity with photovoltaic panels and a wind generator, and of a gas generator back u for those cloudy windless days. I ran my kitchen on propane gas, took long hot showers using an “on demand” gas fired water heater. Cooking my meals on a gas stove and the self generated electrical system powered my lights, TV, Stereo system and my Ham shack. Unemployment allowed me to take my time looking for work and it was, I believe, almost four months of the most relaxing vacation-like existence. Time I utilized efficiently towards getting by shit together for another crack at radio stardom. My hobby happened to be radio as well as my profession. So as a licensed Amatuer Radio Operator I spent most of my time talking with and making friends with fellow hams all over the planet Earth in my sun and wind powered “ham shack”. And as a harbinger of thing to come, I built a recording studio where I began career of broadcasting on an all new medium. This is when I started producing several one hour Hawaiian Music programs called “Hawaiian Jamz” formatted the way American Top 40 was presented to the world by Casey Casem. My One hour shows were written and produced by myself and hosted by the Maui Gateway BBS system that was broadcast to the world through the magic of a newly as yet undiscovered medium known only to a few computer geeks as the internet.. Hawaiian Jamz featured the latest Hawaiian Music “Hits” along with a mix of the older more established entertainers and featured all forms of the genre… Traditional and contemporary alike… From Hui Ohana to The Peter Moon Band. And it was presented by myself in a top 40 deejay can of way which drew not only a considerable audience of Hawaiian Music lovers, but eventually became the “go to” place for Hawaiian Halau’s around the world… wherever Hawaiians migrated to the show became a home away from home to them. A link to where they came from and I couldn’t discovered a more loyal audience. Later, when I stared choking the bandwidth of the Maui Gateway system, I enlisted the aid of a company called “Live 365” where they offered me a “live” streaming service. The first of it’s kind back in 1995. I took out 501C3 papers and became a non-profit company called “The Pacific Internet Broadcasting Service”. I wired up my studio, now located in downtown Kihei and with two new servers and 1600 hundred dollars worth of broadcast automation software, i began broadcasting a live stream of continuous Hawaiian Music, News and special events from Maui to the world via high speed DSL. I called it “Hawaiian Hits Live!”basically a live version of the old “Hawaiian Jamz” programs with an audience mostly made up of Hawaiian Music lovers, former “Hawaiian Jamz” listeners and teachers of Hawaiian Culture stateside. Long story short, “Hawaiian Hits Live!” lasted for ten glorious years garnering a large world wide audience and quite a few loyal contributors and under-writers which helped pay for the bandwidth and studio maintenance. SWadly, I eventually had to discontinue the broadcast due to the greedy royalty service folks who ran the RIAA, as well as ASCAP, SESAC and BMI. The fees got so high that I couldn’t even break even and was forced to pull the plug. I have to admit, it was the saddest day of my life. It was almost unbearable to read the sorrowful and also the angry e-mails we got for having to give up such a fine service to expatriated Hawaiians all over the world. I still have those e-mails and a few CD’s of what the broadcasts were like along with copies of the old one hour “Hawaiian Jamz” shows. A happy a productive part of my long broadcasting career.

It was a wonderful, relaxing four months in Peahi of unemployed laid back bliss, then… the phone rang. Dude, It very rarely ever rang. I thought at first it had to be a crank call or some salesman, but it was a guy named Bernard Clark who it turns out was helping this TV star by the name of Ivan Dixon who just happened to be starting up a new FM radio station in Kihei and he wanted to know if I would help out. Dixon was the guy who you may recall played Sergent Kinchlo, the radio guy on “Hogans Heroes” and he wanted me to be operations manager and morning show host at the new boss of the beach KONI 104.7 FM. I was still considering his offer when he told me what my salary would be and I immediately said “YES!”. The next six years were to be the highlight of my career, which at this point didn’t seem to be over after all… In fact it was just starting all over again. Unbelievable!

The station hadn’t as of yet got on the air as myself and the chief engineer were busy wiring the studio, production studio and the newsroom. Plus the transmitter had to be installed as well. So you might say I had a small part in building the station from the ground up. Truth be told, as a stand-alone station once we got on the air is was an uphill battle to get back into the kind of ratings I was used to. Our transmitter site was at a Christmas tree farm up in Poli poli at roughly 6,000 feet so the the ten KW transmitter and the four bay antenna put an amazingly strong 50,000 watt signal into just about everywhere on Maui. And with a format of Hot Adult Contemporary music and a booming, great sounding FM Stereo signal, we began kicking ass and taking names. I have never had so much fun in all my life. I was able to get across to my new bosses that we needed to get heavily involved with the community right away, so each of us were designated to join one of the various community organizations, such as big brother big sisters, The food bank, and other community service organizations. We began promoting ourselves by giving away a ton of cash. There were minor daily cash giveaways all leading up to a lucky winner receiving a check for ten thousand dollars, which in 1995 was a lot of money. I started the broadcast day every morning starting at 6AM until ten. We had satellite automation the rest of the day except for afternoon drive similar to what was was used to at KMVI FM. The process was genius in that when KONI wasn’t live, we sent out a stereo satellite feed featuring the same format only the disc jockeys were all in Denver Colorado. They were live, but just not here…

What made it work was a computer in our studio that had a recording of all the Denver Jocks voices saying our call letters and frequency. All we had to do was program our computer to know which announcer was on the air at any given time. The announcer would hit a button in the Denver studio that would fire our computer with his (or hers) voice on it again, saying our call letters and frequency. The announcer on the air in Denver would hit that button then wait three and a half seconds before speaking while our computer ran the scheduled announcers voice saying “KONI one oh four point seven FM”. So when the announcer started talking live, everyone listening to the station here on Maui would hear first, our computer playing back the same announcer saying our call sign, then they would hear his voice live coming from Denver- seamlessly. It really sounded like the disc jockey was saying the whole sentence including our station call sign. Anyone listening to KONI would then be led tom believe that the announcer was right here on Maui, in our studio. Let me repeat that just in case you are shaking your head in confusion… The announcer or disc jocky in Denver would say (from our computer) “KONI 104 point 7 FM” which time wise took roughly 3 and a half seconds. The Disc Jockey would wait 3 and a half second and then carry on his rap live from Denver and it came across seamless and real. Pure genius! So we were live all the time, just locally full time from 6AM to 10AM with my totally live show and 3PM to 7PM with our afternoon drive host Tess McManus, also completely live. Then live from the satellite the rest of the broadcast day. This was a precedent setting way of broadcast automation that was both automated and live at the same time. By the way that same computer that dropped in the Denver announcers voices at our end, also was responsible for playing the commercials and other local programming we had at the time. I know this all must sound incredibly confusing, but this style of live automation kept our little stand alone station first in the ratings in Maui county for six long years, the best years of my life… Then the religious right stepped in and ruined my high for the last time.

Coming soon: Even the best things in life have to end sometime… Many thanks to a few of my friends who have become my self appointed editors, who spot most of the bad sentence structure, bad grammar and typos! Couldn’t do it without you… Editing happens at any time. Constantly. So those who visit the blog will notice changes every time they visit. Eventually I’ll get it right and we’ll publish. Aloha!

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Written by ldreynolds

December 31, 2021 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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