Sunday, January 6, 2002

Aloha from Florida

A far-flung broadcasting family may soon do its own version of "taking coals to Newcastle."

A Florida talk-radio station owner and one of his air personalities, both of them Hawaii ex-pats, are talking about beaming a talk show to the islands -- to a station half-owned by the Florida man's sons.

"We try to limit the geographic scope of the company by keeping all the stations within 5,000 miles of each other -- and six time zones," laughed David Wagenvoord, president of Clearwater-based Wagenvoord Advertising Group Inc.

The show about health and nutrition also features Hawaiian music, which host Dennis Clarke learned to appreciate when he lived here.

It's streamed over the Internet via the WTAN AM Web site at, although a program listing naming that show and others was not available.

Two months ago, Clarke said, Floridians' interest in things Hawaiian was evidenced by a luau staged by a Hawaiian group from a Christian church in nearby Largo.

In Hawaii, Clarke may be best remembered for his activism as a leader of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. He left the state in 1986 to continue his work with the commission.

The radio show is his way of "settling down," he said.

"He would love to simulcast (in Hawaii)," said the elder Wagenvoord.

His company owns half of Honolulu's KWAI AM 1080. The other half is owned by Honolulu-based Radio Hawaii Inc., the principals of which are brothers Barry and Sam Wagenvoord. "We'll look into the possibility of carrying it over here" Barry said.

The voice of experience

David Wagenvoord carried Hawaiian programming for ex-pats and Hawaii-enthusiasts at another station he previously owned in Las Vegas.

Less happily, he encountered employment problems in the area's casino culture. Many employees had no bank account as "they'd cash their paychecks at the casino and then come back asking to borrow money," he said.

Wagenvoord told of a woman who had to make a concerted effort to go to the food aisles before hitting the slot machines in the supermarket "or there'd be no milk for the baby."

He thought when he entered the market that "the local people don't gamble, but they do.

"You read about casinos making billions, well, somebody lost that. But you don't look at the casualties, many of which are your own local people," he said.

He's seen people convinced they can make a living by gambling if they just work their "system."

"Vegas loves people with a system. They'll send a car for you, they'll fly you in," Wagenvoord said. "I think it would be a terrible mistake for Hawaii," he said, although he is not opposed to a lottery.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, 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

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