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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 16, 2004

O'ahu's radio landscape changes

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

If you're still expecting to get a blast of rock on KPOI 97.5 FM today, forget about it.

During the weekend, KPOI became KHNR — Hawai'i's lone FM outlet with conservative news and talk. KPOI, a rock staple since the '50s, went off the air Friday night.

The format switch is part of a restructuring of O'ahu radio. Visionary Related Entertainment of Maui sold KPOI and KHUI FM to Salem Media of Hawai'i for a reported $3.7 million. The sale was approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the handover was completed Friday.

Earlier this year, Visionary purchased KPOI and KHUI FM, along with Da Bomb (KDDB 102.7 FM) and KQMQ (93.1 FM), from New Wave Broadcasting for $11 million. Visionary sold KPOI and KHUI to comply with FCC regulations.

For the casual listener, pushing random buttons in search of a song and format will yield surprises.

The KHNR move marks a foray into FM by commercial talk radio. Chaz Ontai will anchor the morning program, with conservative news programming the rest of the day. The KHNR lineup also will feature syndicated conservative talk personalities such as Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager and Bill O'Reilly.

Jacqueline "Honolulu Skylark" Rossetti will anchor part of the traditional Hawaiian music format at KHUI 99.5 FM.

Courtesy photo

Over at KHUI (99.5 FM) the well-known radio voice of the Honolulu Skylark returns this morning in a restoration of traditional Hawaiian music programming. Skylark, also known as Jacqueline Rossetti, has been one of Hawai'i radio's influential personalities.

Ontai also will do a stint on KHUI, with Kahikini de Silva hosting a nighttime shift.

KHUI's return to Hawaiian music will make use of technology to combine content from two locations. Skylark, a Hilo resident, will primarily host her show from a closet-turned-studio in her funky Hilo home.

"Technology allows her to broadcast from Hilo, though we're based in Honolulu," said T.J. Malievsky, vice president and general manager of Salem Media of Hawai'i.

The deejay is well-known for her knowledge of Hawaiian music of several decades, dating back to the original KCCN radio format she nurtured for 22 years. She will be the morning drive and mid-morning personality on KHUI 99.5 FM, as the station revives the traditional Hawaiian music format beginning at 6 a.m. today.

For the launch, Skylark may be doing part of the show from Salem's Gentry Pacific studios on Nimitz Highway.

"They couldn't afford me to move back to Honolulu; you know, to find me a place," said Skylark. "So I'll mostly be in Hilo. But I'm so excited to be part of this wonderful new opportunity. I welcome the opportunity to be back on the airwaves in Honolulu and share stories about songs and people. You know, not just be a voice in the box."

The traditional Hawaiian format harkens back to a previous KHUI format, when it was called "The Breeze" before transforming into "Bob Radio" in January. The Hawaiian format includes such artists as Olomana, Keali'i Reichel, Na Leo Pilimehana, Keola Beamer, the Makaha Sons and Teresa Bright.

Salem operates four other stations in Honolulu: KGU 750 AM, with a Christian teaching and talk format; KHNR AM 650, which will simulcast the conservative talk shows from KHNR FM; KHCM 940 AM, which programs country music; and KAIM 95.5 The Fish, which specializes in Christian contemporary music.

Majievsky said that with the two new stations off and running, Salem will eventually relocate to new studios at 1160 N. King St., across from the post office in Kalihi.

Visionary is retaining the KPOI call letters, but has yet to announce if or where a KPOI station will resurface on the radio dial.

Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, fax 525-8055 or wharada@honolululadvertiser.com.