Hawaiian music back on 24/7 in California
The California wildfires came dangerously close to silencing the only known round-the-clock Hawaiian music station on the mainland.
KAPU-LP 104.7 in Watsonville, a FM station, was started in 2006 by Hawaii lovers Morgan and Jeff Kost. The transmitter is behind their home and the operation is run by the nonprofit Ohana de Watsonville, of which Jeff Kost is the chief executive officer.
"We barely keep the lights on," he said of the operation.
When the Trabing fire broke out June 20, the Kosts were enjoying a vacation, having come to Hawaii for the June 17 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and a side trip to Maui.
That day, they had gone to the water park without their cell phones. "Why take your cell phone to a water park?" Jeff said.
Upon returning to their accommodations and their phones, they learned the station was off the air and "everyone we knew had been calling us to say 'they're dumping water,' 'your house is gone,'" and other frightening news.
The Kosts lost quite a bit of landscaping equipment. A steel container on the property burned so hot that glass inside melted into pools, but the house was intact.
"We got lucky," Jeff said. "If you Google (Trabing fire), you'll see that news reporters were at our house rescuing our llamas and the potbellied pig we got from Hawaii." The dog also was rescued.
Power poles and just about every property north of his home were burned down, he said.
A mishap during firefighting disrupted water service to everyone in the neighborhood but them, he said.
Try wait. The radio station is called KAPU and its transmitter and Kost's home were spared.
Ho, chicken-skin, yeah?
The station itself was safe, but it couldn't broadcast.
Kost kept trying to reactivate the transmitter by telephone, but power was cut off for about 11 days making it impossible to go back on the air, he said.
The coconut wireless for the Kosts and KAPU's fans was in the message boards at www.taropatch.net, an online community for Hawaiian music and slack-key guitar enthusiasts.
"Our music's back up," he told TheBuzz yesterday. KAPU's playlist contains 7,000 tracks and Kost, also the music director said, "We're traditional. We don't do the young 'un stuff, we do the old-school;" Hawaiian music.
Kost anticipates a visit from the insurance adjuster today.
"Everything's good," he said, except for the rats burned out of their habitats that are "making house" on Kost's property. Rats don't read or know that kapu is a worthy warning to heed.
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