Growing Wailea-Makena to receive an FM station
A Kentucky-based broadcaster has won Federal Communications Commission approval to build an FM station to serve the Wailea-Makena communities on Maui.
JER Licenses LLC won a construction permit for a station at 96.7 on the FM dial for Kailua-Kona in a March auction, but asked for FCC approval to build the station on Maui instead.
Approval was granted Friday.
JER principal Jon Robinson could not be reached Friday, but in an earlier communication with TheBuzz he said he had not yet decided on a format for the station.
He also was surprised that he won the permit with a bid of only $322,000, compared to prices paid for other Hawaii radio station construction permits. In auctions since 2004, one went for $2.2 million while three others topped $1 million.
Auction proceeds are a drop in the bucket for the U.S. Treasury, but winners then get to spend millions more to build and run stations.
In its application to build on Maui, JER noted that Kailua-Kona is already served by several FM and AM radio signals, while Wailea-Makena is not the community of license for any other radio station.
A search of the online FCC database confirmed its statement.
"Wailea-Makena is a burgeoning independent community deserving of its first local transmission service," JER said in its filing, noting a 49 percent population increase, to 5,671 people in the 2000 Census from 3,799 in 1990.
The Wailea Community Association had not yet heard about the planned station, according to Bud Pikrone, general manager and chief executive officer.
The nonprofit corporation was chartered in 1987 to provide for management, maintenance, protection, preservation, aesthetic and architectural control and development of property in Wailea, according to its Web site.
JER doesn't necessarily need to build a tower and studios in Wailea, but must make sure its signal primarily serves the Wailea-Makena community.
"There's only a limited amount of space left in Wailea for commercial construction," Pikrone said.
Gateway Center just broke ground and could be finished within two years and there are other parcels outside Wailea proper where the station could go, such as Makena, which has much more land available, he said.
Given the difficulty of establishing new sites for broadcast towers in Hawaii, it is likely the station's transmitter will wind up on an existing tower. It could simply lease office space for studio and administrative operations, as do most others.
JER has three years to build the station.
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