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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 basic 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 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.

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 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 in combination with the kind of music I played, (Top 40/rock) the kids now had a local source of music that appealed to their demographic, 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. So naturally, they began to listen to yours truly 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. That said, I took advantage of my so-called “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.

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, by the way. I featured different genres of rock during the week. 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. Again totally tracked all the way through with no interruption. I claimed “firsties” on introducing the latest Beatles LP, “Abbey Road” 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 which were called “promotional” recordings especially for Top 40 radio, that allowed less time for the tunes and make more room each hour for the 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” 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. It was like they felt cheated by not getting the whold song. It was like taht with all the other acts as well. 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 like that as well, unedited versions of top 40 hits too numerous to mention.

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 youngsters would sell ads and dee jay their own shows. 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 store were getting more and more popular as the station invested heavily into a “Mobile Studio” which was a converted medium size house trailer into a complete, air conditioned studio with a glassed in front where the people could see the Dee jay working in real time. What a novelty it was. It was even more fun to broadcast live from the Maui County Fair, as not only did we get a chance to perform in the mobile studio for our listeners but we got free passes to the fair 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 and end. All this was happening after I ended “Nitetime Radio” in 1975 and the mainstream broadcaster part of my career began. I did afternoons (3 until 7pm Monday through Friday until 1993. Doing what deejays do. Being the most congenial personality we could be, battling the other similarly formatted radio stations for the lion’s share of the audience. During my 25 year tenure, I broadcast from three different strudio locations. From 1967 to 1985 from the old quonset hut buildings under that majestic 455 foot broadcast tower. We had to vacate the building we were in because the station was sold (much to my displeasure) and the new owners needed to find new digs. We had to be temporarily located on Dairy road where Savers used to be before finally moving 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. (can ya dig it?)

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 for breaking the six figure billing month. 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 studio I was instrumental in building. After hours on my back under the console and crawling through the false ceiling running 24 pair cable and hooking up verious other items like two reel to reel tape decks, two turntables, two CD players and of course, the microphone… Plus the one thing I was sure of that would be the eventual end of my career, the computer that handled the satellite fed entertainment and the infamous cassette deck automation system which the commercials were stored on for playback when needed. 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 Harbour and the salt air seemed to melt all the metal we had utilized in building the satellite dish 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, which were now used exclusively by the Maui News, our former owners… and housing our AM transmitter. 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. A few weeks after the big party, I had just finished my show when “Mr. Ego”, our high strung, insecure program director asked me if I would allow him to take me to lunch. Now, any long-time announcer deejay knows exactly what that means. I guess he was expecting me to make a scene, which is why he wanted me out of the station when he told me I was fired. Declining as gracefully as I could, I just smiled and said “Save your lunch money, 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.You must be asking yourself the same question I was asking myself right after he said it. (Sorry about the cliff hanger but I’m hungry. dinner isn’t going to cook itself.)

Written by ldreynolds

November 1, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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