Throughout its 110 year history, The Maui News has always had its own Press. A very good thing; not only could the newspaper be printed on the spot but commercial job printing brought in more revenue. That's still true today. Our present DSM Advantage II Press prints a lot more publications than just The Maui News, including the Hawaii edition of the Wall Street Journal, Lahaina News, Maui Weekly, Maui Time, UH-Maui class schedules, Maui Bulletin, Molokai Dispatch and Weeklies on other Islands.
In 1947, the newspaper's parent company, Maui Publishing, added Maui's first local radio station KMVI, whose call letters meant "K- Maui Valley Isle." The station had been a gleam in Maui Pub's eye since before WW II, but didn't get licensed until the tragic tsunami of April 1, 1946 had demonstrated to the FCC the necessity of having local Maui disaster warnings.
A 455 foot tower was built on the present sand dune site with accompanying grid, and an architect-designed building to house the station was planned next to it. That idea had to be scrapped when Maui Pub couldn't get a building permit right after the War; veteran's housing projects had priority. There were surplus Quonset huts available, though, left over from the military, so the KMVI station brought one of them to the site as a temporary solution. It lasted 40 years. In 1950, a second Quonset was put up next to the first and the walkway between them was roofed over. The Maui News office on High St. in Wailuku could now be moved down to the sand dune site, and a press building was built and attached in the back.
The Maui News Quonset Hut 1957
In the 1950s Maui Pub became a tri-media company when a TV broadcast station was added to the group, much to the pride of the publisher, J. Walter Cameron. Named KMVI-TV, it rebroadcast national programs, but produced at least a couple of weekly local shows. Nora Cooper and Stanley Kobayashi carried equipment around to film and interview people in the community for "Maui Talks" and " Pineapple People", using Nora's scripts. The TV component didn't last long, though, as eventually Federal regulations would not allow one corporation to control all the media in a district.
The Maui News staff worked in the Quonsets until 1988 under increasingly trying or adventurous conditions. The buildings gradually deteriorated and space ran out. There was shuffling of desks when new people were hired, and some uneven-floored hallways were made into offices. After the KMVI station was sold to Obie Broadcasting in 1981, its office and studio space could be used by the newspaper, but still extra time was spent in running around from one area to another and storage remained a problem. Finally a beautiful and efficient new building, designed by architect Stanley Gima, was constructed on another part of our property, and completely occupied in February 1989.
One thing the present building lacks are the colorful stories shared by everyone who had worked in the Quonsets in the Olden Days. The stories abound. First, the roof leaked badly. A storm could cause a flood on the floor. Buckets were placed in the attics where the rain poured in, and buckets could be put in the hallways and next to desks. Good drip catchers were stacks of old newspapers, with which the Maui News was well supplied. A quote from Bob Jones about the roof is memorable: the repairman Smitty said to Bob, "It only leaks when it rains".
The roof over the walkway between the two Quonsets was especially full of puka. Ferns flourished and moss grew on the walls. Unfortunately, the area was used for storage of cartons of papers and photos. An understatement from Wayne Tanaka was that the water was not good for the files. Other storage was in the attics above the flimsy ceilings. People going up there had to watch where they stepped, and keep on the beams. Eleanor Masuda recalled that twice someone fell through the ceiling over the KMVI corridor. Once it was radio station manager Dick Mawson and once it was Spencer Shiraishi, chief engineer. "Scared us? It certainly did". Luckily, no injuries ensued.
It wasn't just water damage, the buildings were rife with termites. Mae McCarter Alberstein remembers that "Bob Jones and I had to dust the termites off our desks in the mornings before starting work". And one day she was startled when " A maintenance guy was fixing wiring in the attic and he stepped on a weakened board. His whole leg fell through the ceiling right over my desk with a great crash".
The electric wiring was also a hazard; wires dangled down from the ceiling and looped around in quite a few places. There were rats and mice in the notorious attics, too. Kelly Thayer found a terrified little mouse in her wastebasket one morning, and carefully let it go outside. Cats found the upper reaches interesting, but sometimes even they fell through the ceiling.
No business could get away with those conditions now, but there was an ohana feeling at The Maui News which forgave a lot, and perhaps we were all younger then.
The Maui News was a smaller, more leisurely operation in those days, not a daily deadlined morning paper. The first computers were presided over by Gary Wehe in an enclosed smoke-free room next to Composing. The compositors did their cut and paste work on slanted boards, ad art was found in large binders, photos were developed in the darkroom, reporters and ad salespeople used good old typewriters for their prose, and for a long time the paper went to subscribers by mail. But news did get out to Maui readers , then as now.
However things have changed technologically, newspapers and presses are still a treasure to their community.