LDReynolds's Blog

Keep It Down! I'm Trying To Write A Book Here…

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Random highlights…

leave a comment »

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!


Written by ldreynolds

December 31, 2021 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

It wasn’t ALL fun and games…

leave a comment »

Being even a low grade local celebrity has it’s gloomy parts. My work ethic was handed down from my father and grandfather. The motto was: “If you can walk and talk, you can work.” I was the guy the boss could rely on to make it to work under other than pleasant conditions of health. I was the employee they called when somebody called in sick. Indeed at broadcasting school there was a whole chapter on how to sound happy and energetic when behind the microphone even when you’re feeling like crap. I call it my “Fake being Fine” method of acting and with radio not having any camera pointing at you like in television, it made it much easier to pull off. This reminds me of another story out of my past. (Please bare with me) I was on the air doing the afternoon drive shift (at KMVI) when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my abdomen, then intense nausea. I had to wait an hour and a half before a replacement could be found willing to take over my duties on very short notice. In those days we didn’t have computers to fall back on when emergencies popped up. While trying to maintain my cool, I called my doctor to explain to him what I was experiencing. Without hesitation he said “Get yourself to the hospital- Now!”Yeah, right. Like THAT was going to happen. So as soon as my replacement took over the microphone that’s exactly what I did… all the while I am practically doubled over in excruciating pain. 15 minutes after stumbling into the emergency room I was under the knife getting my appendix removed. According to the surgeon, had I waited a few minutes longer, it would have burst inside me and that would have been that. Lights out. Anyway…While I waited for another DJ show up and take over, I tried my best to sound “normal” (All but impossible, even under “normal” conditions!) live on the air and conducted myself as if nothing was wrong… no one knew what was actually happening. For anyone listening, one minute I was there happily giving the time, the temperature outside and introducing tunes… and then I wasn’t. That was exactly why I acted like nothing was wrong. In live radio, you just do not walk out of the studio leaving only silence or “dead air” to use broadcasting terminology. That’s just NOT the way things are done in this business. At that time, we didn’t have a pre-recorded bit of music programming to use when things like a possible malfunction in the mixing board or the microphone might occur. Everything was live. It was a real effort to sound happy and excited to be there, considering how I really felt. I guess not knowing I was minutes away from dying helped me keep my head screwed on straight and nobody noticed something had gone terribly wrong. Obviously I am still here to tell the story.

Actually not only when the unexpected happens while on duty, things can go wrong while simply trying to get to work on time. But that’s another story. More to come.

Written by ldreynolds

September 20, 2021 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


leave a comment »

I want to thank as many of my many friends that I have made through the years before I forget. The list is long and I no doubt will manage to forget a few. Let me apologize for that in advance. The whole staff at the radio station should be included as it seemed to me quite clearly that everyone employed at KMVI was indeed a member of the family, so let me start with them. First Bob Frost (no longer with us) was the first person I met as Mrs. Cooper gave me the fifty cent tour of the facility. We first saw each other as I walked into the main air studio. We hit it off immediately as he shook my hand and welcomed me with a huge smile. I don’t think I ever saw him with a scowl on his face and he never had a bad thing to say about anyone. At this point my recollection of one of the first laws of on-air staff psychology was: beware of that smile and that pat on the back- it just might hold you back. As the song goes: “Smiling faces sometimes don’t speak the truth.” And in this business it really means something. My tenure at WJIM and then later at WILS in Lansing prior to my trip to Hawaii taught me to use caution when dealing with certain staff members. However I never had my first impression of Bob Frost altered in any way in the years I knew him right up until the time of his death. He will always be remembered as “Uncle Frosty”. The first friend I ever made at the station. If he had a job description it must have been as a true mentor to newbies arriving at the station. He was always there with words of advice and encouragement. If I ever needed help, he was always ready to aid me in my day to day duties. From then on he never let me down.

Moving on the very next person I recall having big time first impression feelings with was Thom McGarvey. He was also part of the KMVI on air staff. AT first impression, he seemed somewhat “stodgy” to say the least. His background was quite impressive as an accomplished pianist and thespian. However we got along regardless and in fact I learned an awful lot about the music industry from him. It was him I owe my current ability to figure out where anyone I meet is coming from. The old “friend or foe” detector was well established by listening to his experiences. The next staff member I was to meet that first day at work was Richard Graham. He had that perfect radio announcer voice. You know, that very baritonish, deep, resonant, articulate sounding voice. It was him who really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Indeed for a day of two he would drive me around the island and had me pronounce all of the road signs I saw as we passed them. It was then when I learned how badly I could destroy the Hawaiian Language. In fact my very first day on the air I mispronounced the very commonly used word “Kaahumanu” during a newscast I was delivering. I mean after all, it was the main drag between Wailuku and Kahului. Everybody knew that name and here was this tall skinny “Haole” newcomer stumbling all over it on the radio! The every next day there was an editorial written by a popular columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser who proceeded to rake me over the coals. Railing on about how could a radio station hire such an asinine, unprofessional buffoon. I should have cut the op-ed out of the newspaper and framed it. But I was way too embarrassed. I later learned how to pronounce Hawaiian names by breaking the word down into two letter syllables and in most cases putting the accent on the next to the last syllable. I signed up later that week for language lessons at Maui Community College. Still, it was a rough road to travel but I seemed to have manged it as no further artillery was aimed my way from then on. However, it was a lesson I will NEVER forget I can guarantee you. More to come.

Written by ldreynolds

September 13, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Saturday Night Love Letters…

leave a comment »

Memories Are Made Of This…

There are many fond- and not so fond memories I feel compelled to jot down for the book… One that stands out was about a show I cooked up for Nitetime Radio with L.D. Reynolds. Which aired from 1967 to around 1975 on KMVI. It was four hours on a Saturday night where I would read a dedication then follow it with the song requested in the letter. In fact, it was called “Saturday Night Love Letters”. I would come in early for my shift to sort through the mail and make individual piles of letters that were for the same song. I had to do this because there was always more than one dedication with a particular song requested. I would read the letters on the air, then play the song. Well, the program got so popular that the incoming mail resembled an alpine avalanche. Big cardboard boxes full all for the upcoming Saturday evening show. Well, it got so popular I eventually had to cancel the program because there was no way I could get hundreds of dedications all within the allotted four hours. As I look back on this, I realize that I really didn’t think the idea for the show all the way through. Still, I think it would have been great if I could have had help with the show prep and then maybe at the end of the show say something in an apologetic tone like: “If you didn’t hear your dedication tonight, I’m sorry but we just ran out of time By all means please try again for next Saturday’s show!” Great. Another intense “What If” moment. I truly loved those kids. Today they’re probably all grown up adults, married with children or maybe even grandkids of their own Now, in my retirement I always get a kick out of those few precious moments when a person would recognize me on the street and come up to me and say what fun they had hearing their dedications live on the radio. Indeed once in awhile they would say they actually ended up marrying the person they dedicated those songs to. It warms the old ticker quite nicely.

Written by ldreynolds

October 23, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Great Storm of 1980

leave a comment »

It was the closest thing to a hurricane I have ever experienced. It wasn’t as violent as it was lengthy in duration. The worst had passed after 72 hours, but the system proceeded to stall over the islands and refused to leave. I recall it was more than a week of steady rain pouring from a dark thick cloud cover consisting of millions of shades of gray.  It was most depressing after the initial excitement of the  storm had passed,  followed by several days of constant rain, (varying between drizzle and downpour) wind and for Maui it was damned cold… I really began to appreciate the sun and one of the main reasons I moved to Maui in the first place.

However it was during the evening hours of the second day of the storm when something happened that would change my life forever…

Today’s radio is no way like it was back in 1980. I knew what a computer was, but at that time computers were what ran NASA or our accounting system at the station. The live announcer had much more to do with the day to day operations of the station. During the telling of this story, you will learn just how true that statement is…  On the morning of January 8, 1980 I woke up to a most unusual sound. It was the sound of rain, but not quite the same familiar sound that rain usually makes. It was different enough to peak my curiosity, so I got out of bed and shuffled over to the bedroom window and peered outside. Instead of the usual green grass and foliage,  I found myself gazing upon a large pond where my backyard used to be. So it wasn’t the sound of rain hitting the ground that woke me up and caused me to investigate, it was the sound of rain hitting a rather large body of water. The weather report had warned of a large tropical depression heading up towards Maui from south of the Big Island. It was a “typical” forecast more or less expected on rare occasions during our winter season so it didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time. Yet the rain was really coming down hard and  and on top of that it was steadily increasing in intensity as I stood there.

During this period in my life I had obtained my Amateur Radio “Ham” license, passing the FCC exam roughly ten years ago and by this time was heavily involved in the local Ham Club and in emergency communications for the local civil defense agency. By the looks of things outside, I thought maybe I’d better head into my “Ham Shack” and see if there was anything going on I should know about.  I dialed my receiver to a local shortwave frequency where I always used to spend the first two hours of my typical daily schedule shooting the breeze with a few of my fellow Ham buddies. There was already excited talk on the channel mostly about the tropical depression, which during the night had suddenly turned itself into a full blown tropical storm.

It must have been the weekend, because I wasn’t scheduled to go into work that day. The roof over the ham shack was an “after thought” addition to the house and the aluminum roof sloped downwards away from the main house rather unconventionally and when standing up, the top of my head was only inches from the ceiling. This was significant for an entirely different reason this day in particular because by then the sound of the rain hitting the aluminum roof made it difficult to hear my extremely concerned wife speaking to me over my shoulder as I sat at my desk, let alone try to hear what was going on on the radio.

The usual “ham” gang was on the air that morning. Jerry, out in the boonies of Peahi.  Dave, upcountry in Pukalani.  Mike, way out in Kaupo in East Maui. Wesley, an old timer up in Olinda and myself in Kahului just a block or two away from the AM radio station where I was employed. The National Weather Service had nothing but bad news for us that fateful morning. We were expecting 45 to 50 mile per hour winds with gusts of up to 75 miles per hour and there was several more inches of rain on the agenda as well. Already I could sense the wind picking up in the  bushes outside the ham shack window and in the mango trees in the back yard. An hour later the house was beginning to show signs of distress and I had a wife and young daughter looking at me with eyes that were saying “oh crap, what are we gonna do?”

The mood was suddenly disrupted by the telephone. In those days it was an actual telephone hanging on the wall in the kitchen that actually rang. It was the radio station wanting to know what frequency the guys and I were yakking on. It wasn’t my boss who wanted to know,  it was in fact the United States Coast Guard. Evidently there was a crisis in progress due to the storm and they were aware that we were a regular feature on the 40 meter “ham” band every morning and sure enough not 30 seconds after I hung up, the Coast Guard cutter radio operator was calling me on frequency giving some weird U.S. Coast Guard radio call sign. By this time the weather outside had built up to a loud raucous roar and I had to resort to headphones to hear what the radio operator was saying… With my young family of three all huddled around me and my radio gear, we were all starting to get more concerned with all the storm related goings-on outside and curious to boot as to what the coast guard wanted with my rag tag ham radio morning crew.

Sam, the radio operator on board the cutter, filled us in on the situation. A small 45 foot sail boat had been caught in the storm, ripped from it’s mooring and blown way off course and completely lost in 25 foot waves and ungodly strong rain and wind… and worse, we learned there was a family of four on board. There was a certain amount of luck involved here as it so happened the father was an amateur radio operator. Another stroke of luck was that the coast guard was able to pick up his distress call.  Before long the frantic father of two, trying to speak as calmly as he could, began feeding us information while myself, the the other members of our “rag tag 40 meter ham morning crew” and the coast guard radio operator tried to triangulate the exact position of the tiny craft using our radios. All the while I couldn’t stop thinking about what this guy must be going through out in this storm on a small wooden sail boat surrounded by waves bigger than a six story office building, that awful howling wind and pouring rain. Even at our location,  I doubt I could have stepped outside without scuba gear (I jest)  it was coming down so hard. In fact, while all this was happening my neighbor’s roof across the street found its way onto my front yard.

We stayed on the air for the rest of the morning giving badly needed moral support to the poor skipper on that boat, who through out the whole ordeal kept his cool… even when the children in the background started to sound a bit panicked. We could hear their inquiries “off mic” about what was happening and he kept it all together.  I have to hand it to him. I don’t think I could have pulled off what he did had I been in his shoes. It took about 10 minutes to get an actual “fix” on the boat’s location and the cutter finally zeroed in.  As the storm built up in intensity it was touch and go as to whether the that brave Coast Guard cutter crew would be able to see that tiny craft in all that violent weather.

When the cutter finally found them we all let out a hardy whoop and I nearly spilled my sixth cup of hot coffee in the process. In all the excitement, roughly fifteen minutes after the cutter had retrieved the wet and frightened family, their tiny craft with everything the that family owned, sank straight to the bottom. It was determined later that as the boat was being towed back into Kahului Harbor, the waves were just too high for the small craft to handle. The only home this family had ever known could no longer stay afloat. In seconds it was gone. But they were safe and we were some of the most jubilant and full-of-ourselves bunch of hams you’d ever see in your entire life.

The next day I was pulling an afternoon shift on the air and I got a surprise call from the Mom, whom I bet was just as instrumental in keeping spirits up that fateful morning as anyone else involved. She was calling from a phone booth in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing an interview about the ordeal and she agreed. It was probably the most interesting and gripping interview I have ever conducted. She explained how they had lost everything when their boat went down, which was indeed their home for several years. That boat contained everything they owned. Food, clothing, memorabilia, everything. They lost a lot but she made sure we all knew that they were alive and thankful for it. She thanked the crew of the cutter and all of us who were on the ham radio airwaves that day, everyone  who was involved in the process of getting the boat located, minutes before possibly an even larger disaster could happen.

But the story doesn’t end there… While she was talking to me, a lady (to this day I don’t know who she was) pulled up in front of the phone booth and after our conversation, picked her up and took her shopping. Later when I was talking to the father, I found out that the mysterious lady was a well to do woman who was listening to the interview on her car radio and and decided to help them out. The generous lady spent more than a thousand dollars buying food, clothing and providing a place for the now homeless family to stay while they got back on their feet. While listening to the interview she happened to spot the young mother of two in the phone booth, pulled into the parking lot and offered to help. It was an extremely heart warming end to a very exciting story. It’s all there in the January 8, 1980 edition of the Maui News. Read all about it. The Great Storm of 1980.

Written by ldreynolds

September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized