New West gets OK for new AM station on Big Island
Hilo-based New West Broadcasting Corp.
has been granted a construction permit to build a new AM radio station for Honaunau on the Kona side of the Big Island -- at 1340 on the dial.
The company had filed an application in 2004 for the permit, which had been set aside for the Federal Communications Commission's yet-unscheduled Auction 84.
New West submitted information clearing up any potentially competing interests in the construction permit, and was able to secure the permit without it having to go to auction.
"This is the culmination of three or four years of engineering and legal (work) to get to this," said Chris Leonard, vice president and general manager.
The company owns KPUA-AM 670 in Hilo, a news, sports and information station, KWXX-FM 94.7 in Hilo, KAOY-FM 101.5 in Kona and KNWB-FM 97.1 in Hilo.
KAOY carries KWXX's Hawaiian-music programming, while the classic-hits format of KNWB is simulcast on KMWB-FM 93.1 in Kona, through a time-brokerage agreement with Louisiana-based Capt. Cook Broadcasting Inc.
While New West simulcasts its Hilo FM stations in Kona, plans for the yet-unbuilt AM station are not set in stone.
"We're still evaluating that. We still have some more engineering we need to do, to really determine what the future holds for it," Leonard said.
He has until Valentine's Day of 2011 to build the station and fire it up.
New West also has two additional applications pending for AM stations, but the Honaunau application "was the one we were able to clear."
The other New West applications are for AM stations at 1250 and 1300 on the dial, both of which are allocated for Keauhou, also on the Kona side -- and both of which are auction-bound.
The applications are among nearly two dozen filed for the upcoming auction.
Several AM station construction permits will be up for grabs in the auction, which could mean several more Hawaii communities could be getting new AM stations -- including Laie and Mililani on Oahu; Haiku, Kahului, Kihei, Waihee and Wailuku on Maui; Capt. Cook, Hilo, Honalo Keaau and even Paukaa, on the Big Island.
After the 2006 Big Island earthquake, the city considered running its own AM radio station dedicated for emergency information. And State Rep. Mark Takai has proposed a bill requiring the state Department of Transportation to create a county-wide highway traffic advisory radio system on the AM band for traffic reports. It has passed second reading.
But just in case any lawmakers with a hankerin' for an AM radio station are reading this, the FCC's window for would-be bidders has long been closed.
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