Maui airwaves to receive a new FM radio station
MAUI-based Visionary Related Entertainment LLC
is about to build a new Kihei radio station.
The Federal Communications Commission has granted VRE a construction permit to build a station that will broadcast at 107.5 on Maui's FM dial. VRE won the right to apply for the permit in January's FCC FM auction No. 68 for $1,109,000.
"We've already got the site and we're already starting the purchasing of equipment," , VRE president John Detz said.
Broadcasters get three years from issuance of a construction permit to put a station on the air, but VRE is ahead of schedule.
"We had a lot of time prior to the auction to get ready and figure out where we were going to (build) it," he said.
"Our desire" is to get the station on by Thanksgiving, "but in reality, probably Christmas," he said.
The format is a secret for now. Of course, a target completion date for any type of construction in Hawaii is a moving target, as many a restaurateur, retailer and homebuilder can attest.
The station's call letters will be KHEI-FM, as in Kihei. Surprisingly, the call letters were not already taken in the market.
"I've been pretty proud of some of the calls I've been able to ferret out," Detz said. He cited KMKK and KTBH, for stations in Kaunakakai on Molokai and Kurtistown on the Big Island, that appeared in this space a year ago. The Molokai station is on the air at 102.3.
Maui has four AM and 11 FM stations, though four are low-power stations whose over-the-air signals don't reach very far. Some mainland-based broadcasters also reach Maui and other islands through FM repeaters.
Completion of KHEI will give VRE five stations on the Valley Isle "and statewide, we're passing through 17 stations right now," he said.
KTBH-FM 102.1 is licensed to Kurtistown, but its studios are being built in Hilo. It is common for transmitters and studios to be outside the FCC's so-called community of license for a station, "because you can't necessarily put a stick (broadcast tower) in the town of license," Detz said.
VRE is hiring up to seven people for its first Big Island station. "There are a lot of very good people, underemployed or unemployed on the Big Island that would like to get back into radio," he said.
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