Multiethnic radio station gets leniency from FCC
A SMALL, multiethnic Honolulu radio station has been granted a $7,000 reprieve by the Federal Communications Commission.
KNDI-AM 1270 could have had to pay an $8,000 forfeiture for violations last year of the FCC's Emergency Alert System rules -- including having EAS gear that wasn't working -- but its consent decree with the commission reduced the amount to $1,000.
"I am very grateful and relieved," said Leona Jona, president of Broadcast House of the Pacific Inc., which owns the radio station.
Jona believes one favorable factor was the station's recent recognition as a communications asset for Civil Defense officials who need to communicate emergency information to non-English-speaking Hawaii residents.
"I think it's very fair, because we did make a mistake ... but I did send them a financial statement and other things I'm doing for the community," she said.
The station's potential got officials' attention after the October 2006 earthquake, during meetings of the Governor's Comprehensive Communications Review Committee -- comprised of broadcasters, other media professionals and first-responders.
A state-funded generator will soon be installed at the station, to make sure it can get emergency info in at least 11 foreign languages if the power goes out, or worse.
Volunteers have recorded emergency messages the station can broadcast to instruct non-English speakers to stay tuned for further information. In the event of an emergency, volunteers will translate official messages, she said.
"I'm a Hungarian refugee. I didn't speak any English when I came to this country," which was in 1956, she said. That makes her empathetic and passionate about serving KNDI's particular audiences, "the most vulnerable population."
Jona works closely with the Ethnic Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization, which "has been a very supportive organization to the radio station," she said.
"This is the only way I can maintain all these (programs for) ethnic groups, is to get a little help from some place."
About a year ago, KNDI launched programs in three Micronesian languages, Marshallese, Chuukese and Pohnpeian, "because the Health Department was so needing -- there are big health problems and this was the best way to get the information out to them," said Jona. The audience largely cannot read English "and they're not watching television ... this is why we have this whole thing going. Radio is still one of the most flexible and mobile things. Where ever you go, it goes with you."
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: firstname.lastname@example.org