All-Hawaiian music station in California wins license battle
IT PLAYS Hawaiian music 24/7 and its operators have won validation from the Federal Communications Commission in a nearly two-year-old case.
KAPU-LP 104.7 is a low-power FM station in Watsonville, Calif., run by the nonprofit Ohana de Watsonville.
It claims to be the mainland's only radio station that plays nothing but Hawaiian music.
Principals Jeff and Morgan Kost just returned home after a trip to Hawaii for the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards last week. Seeing the FCC notice "was actually very exciting," Morgan said.
The ruling denies an objection to the Kosts' license, filed by a group that had earlier sought to partner with them.
The other group previously had tried but failed to win its own low-power FM license.
The group made several allegations against the Kosts -- but, dismissing the accusations point by point, the commission denied the objection in favor of the licensees.
The Kosts have invested around $60,000 in KAPU, which is now nearly 21 months old.
Neither Jeff nor Morgan is from Hawaii. They just love it and are frequent visitors.
"Jeff and I traveled to Hawaii in 1995 for the first time together," she said.
They hopped on a bus to see what they thought would be a pineapple packing operation. Their information mistaken, they found themselves at Hilo Hattie and bought CDs by Peter Moon and Gabby Pahinui and listened to them during the rest of their trip. "It was like, throw away the rock 'n' roll, we're hooked now," she said.
Back at home, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was quite warm, so "we were sitting on our lawn ... with the radio and we just happened onto this radio station in Salinas... and they had a Hawaiian program on." It aired on KHDC-FM 90.9 each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"We then began every Sunday to make a huge breakfast ... with champagne and guava juice ... and tell our family we were unavailable," so they could listen to the music uninterrupted.
The Kosts have children now, so nothing about their lives is uninterrupted.
KHDC's programming changed and the Kosts decided to set up their own Hawaiian music station -- which is now run by 11 volunteers. KAPU, like other nonprofits, must raise funds.
KAPU has staged two membership drives, "but we try not to focus too much on it -- we're trying to play music and be noncommercial," Morgan said.
The largest donation the station ever received was $200, which was "a mind-blower," but even getting a small donation is meaningful.
"When you get a $5 donation from somebody it makes you cry. 'This is what I can afford. I'm sorry it's not more,' they'll say."
A big station fundraising concert and luau is planned for July 15. The Kosts have attracted big-name local talent for the event in Watsonville, including Aaron Mahi, Martin Pahinui and George Kuo; Owana Salazar; John Cruz; and Brittni Paiva, to name a few.
Tickets are $65 and include food, drinks and all the entertainment and talk-story-time they can squeeze in from noon to 6 p.m.
The Kosts are providing the artists' airfare, lodging and transportation, "but they're doing it for nothing compared to what they normally would (charge)," she said.
The Kosts attended last year's Hoku awards, and people were beginning to know what KAPU-LP was all about.
Now, increasing numbers of artists will stop by the station when they're in the area for a 30- to 45-minute interview and to give away tickets to their gigs.
"Even though we do have a small broadcast area, we help them sell their CDs and that's to us, the point of it, to promote and perpetuate (the music) the artists are making."
The KAPU crew filled a table of 10 at this year's Hoku awards ceremony.
"It was like, seeing your favorite movie star, you get all stupid and you're afraid to say hello," she laughed.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, 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 at: email@example.com