More than a decade in the making, Hawaii Public Radio will flip the switch during the first week of April to put new station KIPM on the air at 89.7 FM on the Maui radio dial.
It will join KKUA as Maui's second stream of NPR programming, and will advance HPR President Michael Titterton's dream of using radio waves to unite the islands of Hawaii and provide the forum where we can all talk to one another.
After a "Community Support Day" at Whole Foods Market last week raised more than $20,000 to match an equal challenge gift from Alexander & Baldwin, the fundraising campaign for the new station was within $20,000 of its $187,625 goal, Michael reported at the end of last week.
He called the developments "marvelous! We're always just tickled pink with Maui's response. The way Maui has treated this process has shown almost preternatural patience."
He was referring to the years of waiting for the opportunity to secure a license from the FCC. The actual fundraising has gone more smoothly once it began late last year with a vanguard of early supporters being recognized as charter members of KIPM.
(To see who they are, or to make your own contribution to put the goal over the top, visit www.hawaiipublicradio.org/mauikipm897chartemembersr or call the station at (808) 955-8821.)
"It's always an interesting business, getting a new station up and running," Titterton said. They money will pay for a new solid-state transmitter and a backup generator for both HPR streams on Maui, as well as operating expenses for a year.
Noting that HPR's annual electric bill is close to a third of a million dollars, he points out, "We're spending $80,000 a year just on juice to run that thing."
While some of the national programming overlaps with what we now hear on KKUA, KIPM tends to more talk-oriented programming -more thought-provoking and less inflammatory than you might hear on talk radio elsewhere. Its musical tastes tend to be more eclectic, from jazz to Hawaiian, than KKUA's emphasis on classical.
The new station will also remedy many Maui listeners' status as accidental pirates for the last year or so. When Hawaii Public Radio made improvements to its KIPO transmitter on Oahu, Mauians suddenly found themselves able to pick up the strengthened signal at various places around this island.
The new station has different call letters and a different spot on the dial and finally makes honest citizens of us all.
"The whole object of KIPM, in addition to bringing in programming, is to bring into being a device that can help to draw population of Hawaii together," said Titterton. "We want to meet the geographical and social needs of geographically challenged population, and give them common sense of place. It's a gathering place, and this is a huge step toward the dream."
A large, lucky audience at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater last Saturday experienced a different kind of coming together, courtesy of "Three Maui Divas."
This teaming of musical artists Amy Hanaiali'i, Napua Makua and Raiatea Helm produced a wonderful synergy from the award-winning singers who are more used to captivating concert halls all by themselves.
With a song list extending from classics of Hawaiana to Motown standards, and costume changes involving tight gowns and lots of sparkles, the trio showed their solo artistry, but also got laughs bringing their girl talk to the stage.
Raiatea described herself as the "baby diva" in the group, Amy was the very capable center of attraction, and Napua added disarming candor to her stature as one of the state's leading kumu hula.
Along those lines, Raiatea demonstrated hidden talents as a former Merrie Monarch competitor, while Amy hinted talents for jazz and blues that will be showcased on an upcoming album.
While their songs soared, it was their banter that endeared them to the audience. Sharing their problems costuming themselves for the glitzy show, they told of adventures in the ambisextrous Girls Heaven. But really, the only place to shop on Maui is Ross, they conceded, before Napua added, "I bought candles."
* Contact Rick Chatenever at firstname.lastname@example.org.