Monday, December 16, 2002

Brewer has come out of
retirement to recycle
a radio role

A man who built a group of Big Island radio stations, most of them from the ground up, is back, this time as an employee of the group's owner.

Phil Brewer was lured out of retirement in Arizona to come back to Hilo to run the stations he built, KKBG-FM 97.9, KKOA-FM 107.7 and KLEO-FM 106.1 as well as the station he bought, KHLO-AM 850.

He built "K-big," the Big Island's first FM station, in 1982. In 1992 he acquired KHLO and through the 1990s he built the other two FM stations.

The stations are now owned by Connecticut-based Maverick Media LLC, successor to Emerald City Radio Partners, which bought the stations from Brewer in June of 1999.

Brewer told TheBuzz he believes the stations were doing well but that with the Big Island radio scene "more competitive than its ever been and more and more stations going on the air," Maverick wanted to bring in someone with his nearly 20 years of experience in the Hilo market.

He started the new-slash-old gig on Tuesday.

Why come back as an employee?

"To be real honest," Brewer said, "I really did miss Hawaii. I have really good friends here and that had a lot to do with it.

"I had retired to Tucson, Arizona," but he said, "It's a little warm there and there are rattlesnakes there."

Brewer succeeds former GM Rodney Sanchez, who colleagues expect will return to Kauai.

Maverick Media last month filed several applications with the FCC to consolidate its radio licenses under market-specific names. President Gary Rozynek said the move was to restructure the way the company is laid out, that it was not in preparation for a sale.

Brewer at this point is not planning to revisit station ownership. "Honestly I don't think there's any intention on their part or mine (to purchase the stations)," he said.

He owns a home and ranch in Arizona, where his wife, an artist, has contractual obligations for showings through March. "I will be flying back and forth and she will too," he said.

Meanwhile, he's in temporary lodgings, bemoaning the fact that he didn't buy a home the last time he lived in Hilo. "In 20 years I never decided if I was really going to stay here." He's looking now.

Brewer has not yet met his Honolulu counterpart, Jeff Coelho, general manager of Maverick's KUMU-AM 1500, KUMU-FM 94.7 and KAHA-FM 105.9.

"Tell him I said hello and welcome to Maverick Media," Coelho said.

Honolulu's Maverick cluster, meanwhile, is having a "good fourth-quarter. A record-breaker," Coelho said. He can't remember another occasion where political advertising has buoyed revenue through the entire fourth quarter.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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