Erika Engle

Big Island broadcasting
is a burgeoning business

A new Big Island broadcaster broke through the airwaves Friday morning on the brand new KBGX-FM 105.1, with signals in Hilo and Kona.

Its on-air moniker is "Lava 105 FM," and its format is oldies, specifically, music from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. "Our core music is '66 to '73 with heavy Motown," said Thomas Troland, owner of Skynet Hawaii LLC, which operates the station and owns the licenses for two others.

"We have a robust signal through the Kona and Hilo market(s)," he said.

The music is aimed at the 25-to-54 demographic. "We're filling a very large void here," said Troland.

There are no air personalities yet; the station's programming is mostly music, ABC Radio News and local weather.

"We're going to be very cautious about our overhead because of what's occurred with the other operators," he said.

In the past year, several Big Island radio station ownership changes have caused tumult for on-air and off-air employees.

Nevertheless, there inevitably will be front-line personalities to handle station promotions using the Ford Econoline van Troland has purchased. It will be "painted and logo-ized," he said. The station has staff on both sides of the island for sales and operations.

The original call letters for KBGX were KIHH, but those changed following Troland's $350,000 purchase of the license from Wisconsin broadcaster Jon Le Duc last fall.

Lava 105's now-silent sister-stations are KKOA-FM 107.7 and KIPA-AM 620, purchased in separate deals last year for a combined $425,000.

Troland is seeking a new tower site for KIPA, an AM-radio institution on the Big Island, a task he described as "a work in progress."

Troland plans to fill other format voids with KKOA and KIPA, but is keeping those plans close to the vest.

The formerly San Diego-based broadcaster sold all his radio interests on the mainland and is now living on the Big Island.

Aloha Radio regroups

Restructuring usually implies downsizing after a downturn. Aloha Radio Group LLC, comprised of one station, is regrouping as it expands.

Partners Nelson Ray Parker and Frank Hooton operate KHWI-FM 92.7.

They have recently launched the newspaper formatted "motorhead" magazine along with Editor Paul Maddox.

"He's a total car nut," said Hooton. "It's meant to give other motorheads on the Big Island a place to gather."

Parker had been doing the morning show and overseeing the on-air side of the radio station, a task that involved a daily, predawn commute from Waimea to Hilo.

Hooton's role focused on the sales and back-office operations, but with the added product, the partners decided Parker would focus on the magazine while Hooton would oversee the radio station.

Through the station's and magazine's work with Steven Schwartz, owner of Response Marketing and subsidiary 808 Classifieds, another partnership was born.

"We combined offices so that we have the same sales team for Response Marketing and for the radio station," Hooton said.

Clients can "choose radio or print or other media because we do everything. We create logos, design banners, business cards, direct mail, we do Web design and maintenance, the full spectrum, and you know, it just made sense."

The multiplatform, cross-promotional opportunities will increase when new partner and film industry veteran Michael Petro is incorporated into the fold for the partners' television venture.

"Basically, we want to make things for the Big Island from the Big island, geared toward the Big Island," such as local news, special projects and Motorhead Magazine TV, "although that's down the line," Hooton said.

Petro, a Canadian ex-pat, will produce the shows for broadcast on a yet-to-be determined cable channel.

The partners have registered Aloha Broadcasting Co. as a possible name for the budding new empire.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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 at:


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