An update on past news

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Aku’s records live on

Question: What ever happened to J. Akuhead Pupule's record library? He played music from the 40s and 50s. Does KSSK have it?

Answer: Yes, the radio station where Hal Lewis, aka, Akuhead, made his name as a radio DJ has more than 5,000 vinyl LPs that he collected over his 36 years there.

The "original in-your-face" talk show host "played what he liked," said Michael W. Perry, who with co-host Larry Price took over Akuhead's morning drive-time slot in 1983 after he passed away.

Lewis' records run the gamut from Doris Day or The Four Lads to Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller.

"He also had some great spoken word things like famous speeches and the original Pearl Harbor broadcast. He had some great old comedy from the '50s and '60s," Perry said.

Perry and Price still dig into the collection from time to time for "period pieces."

"He really was the first. He really invented talk radio," Perry went on.

In the late '40s, "he found out a way to hook up a telephone to the transmitter. Somebody at the station asked him why he wanted to do that. He said, 'Because people love to eavesdrop on each other.'"

The ensuing popularity of talk radio proved him right, Perry said.

Before coming to Hawaii with his wife and kids in 1946, Lewis had worked in radio in San Francisco and also had been a singer, vaudeville entertainer, musician and writer. When he died in 1983, Lewis was reported to be the "highest paid DJ in the country" at $6,000 a week, news accounts said.

Akuhead, who at times posed for photos with a fish mask over his head, was known for stunts such as broadcasting from a hotel room, April Fool's Day jokes and charity golf tournaments.

By Diana Leone, Star-Bulletin

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