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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2001

On Campus
KTUH back next week with wider radio reach

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Wondering what ever happened to "Trance in Your Pants," "Fillet of Soul" or "Old Folks Boogie"?

For those of you who have been turning your radio dial unsuccessfully trying to find the alternative offerings of KTUH, the University of Hawai'i' student radio station, you won't have to search much longer.

The station will return to the airwaves at 6 a.m. next Thursday with a new tower and more powerful antenna that should at least double the number of people on O'ahu able to tune in.

KTUH, which started in 1966 as an AM station that reached several dorms, went off the air July 30 for the first time in recent memory. To prepare for a power upgrade, which takes the station from a mere 100 watts to 3,000 watts, the old tower and antenna atop the Social Sciences Building had to be torn down.

Although the station gave ample notice of its plans to be off the air temporarily, station general manager Lori Ann Saeki is still getting calls from confused listeners.

"People are still calling and saying, 'My reception is really bad. What happened?' " she said.

True to form for a college radio station, KTUH offers listeners a noncommercial alternative to regular radio. With an emphasis on alternative.

In three-hour blocks, the 24-hour programming includes hip-hop, Hawaiian, ska, jazz, Caribbean blues and just about every musical genre that's out there.

The $68,000 project to increase the station's power was financed by student fees and community donations. It has taken the station 13 years of work to accomplish the project.

"We'll be louder," Saeki said. "We'll sound better."

While the power increase should at least double the station's range, it could do more. FM waves travel in the line of sight, then bounce off O'ahu's high-rises and mountains.

KTUH's volunteer staff members can't predict where on the island their signal will end up, but they know that it will sound better wherever it goes.

"It will never reach certain pockets, no matter how powerful we are," Saeki said. "It's going to be an experiment."

Unlike some college radio stations, KTUH is all live and lets the DJs — all college students — pick their own format.

"We're live. We're human. You know that the DJ loves whatever they're playing," Saeki said.

Jolene Miyaji, music director for the station, is hoping for an added bonus to the new tower and antenna. With the more powerful antenna, UH's large student population and increased range, more record companies and independent bands could send sample CDs to the station. The station already has about 10,000 CDs and what it says is the largest vinyl collection in the Pacific.

"Some people didn't want to send us stuff because our exposure wasn't that wide," Miyaji said. "But college students are a big market themselves. They're more open to new music."

To tune in a week from today, turn your dial to 90.3 FM if you're near the Manoa campus, 89.7 in Hawai'i Kai or 91.3 on the North Shore. KTUH is on the Web at ktuh.hawaii.edu.

Until then, don't bother.

All you'll hear is static.

Reach Jennifer Hiller at jhiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.