Chinese music replaces country on AM


POSTED: Saturday, July 04, 2009

Programming from China has replaced country music on KHCM-AM 880 in Honolulu in an agreement between station licensee Salem Media of Hawaii Inc. and R&C Productions Inc., both California based.

Salem parent Salem Communications Corp. owns radio stations known for primarily Christian and conservative programming—while China Radio International, source of all the programming on the station right now, is state-run, owned and operated by the Chinese government as are all media outlets there.

R&C President Billy Chung said the programming does not promote communism or come from the communist perspective.

“;CRI has more than 100 reporter centers around the world,”; staffed by American reporters as well as reporters and hosts from other countries. He noted the international cast of hosts and reporters on the new Web site at am880.net.

CRI programs are primarily in Chinese—predominantly Mandarin but also some Cantonese as well as English, Korean and Japanese, Chung said.

“;In the future we will probably have some local”; programming.

While meeting with Salem executives in Honolulu, Chung was introduced to leaders of Honolulu's Chinese community, and he plans a luncheon to introduce the station.

Chung also runs WCE-TV on cable and satellite TV systems and WCETV.com.

The latter has channels for the U.S., Europe, Asia and will soon have a stream for Australia.

The drastic format change was noted last week by Honolulu-based broadcast historian Brock Whaley for an online group of radio hobbyists known as dx-ers for their scanning of far-flung frequencies around the globe.

Whaley believes the round-the-clock relay of the Beijing-based broadcast is “;historic.”;

“;It's not just that a foreign broadcast is being relayed (on the air) in the United States, but a foreign broadcast that is controlled by a communist regime and is subject to the censorship and propagandist take on the news,”; he said.

Meanwhile, “;no one in the world jams more foreign broadcasts than the People's Republic of China,”; preventing citizens' reception of the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, the BBC and others.

“;Even North Korea and Cuba pale in comparison to the millions of watts and hundreds of transmitters that are used to jam outside broadcasts,”; said Whaley.

Many ministries that buy blocks of time on Salem stations work to get Bibles and aid into China and “;often point out the persecution, execution and slave labor (of Christians) in the People's Republic.”;

R&C approached Salem seeking the arrangement, said Jeff Coelho, Salem Media general manager.

“;It does two things: It generates revenue and fills a little bit of a hole, for Chinese programming in Honolulu,”; he said last week. Emergency messages have been prepared in Chinese, for instance.

CRI programming is on in more than a dozen U.S. radio markets.

“;We researched it diligently,”; Coelho said. “;They're just testing all the programming for the next two weeks. What you hear is not the final product.”;

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).