Erika Engle

Radio station’s rejection
of Hula’s ad sparks

RADIO broadcaster Mahlon Moore has left his job at KHUI-FM 99.5 "The Breeze of Hawaii" amid a controversy within the gay community that is being downplayed by station management.

"Mahlon Moore's contract ran out (Sunday)," said T.J. Malievsky, vice president and general manager for KHUI and other Hawaii radio stations owned by California-based Salem Communications Corp.

Salem provides radio programming, Web sites and magazines aimed at a Christian and family audience, according to its Web site.

The controversy began last month when the radio station at first accepted, then rejected advertising for a concert at Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, a gay bar.

Jack Law, owner of Hula's and the Wave Waikiki, was arrested in June on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 30-year-old man in May. Charges have not been filed.

The station's refusal to run the ads had nothing to do with Law's arrest, Malievsky said.

"We can't accept this (advertising) because it's not going to fit our format, our station image, whatever. We've always said we're a family-friendly company," Malievsky said.

Malievsky said of the whole matter, "this is not news."

But soon after the ad rejection, Malievsky received an e-mail, titled "Bigoted Breeze 99.5," from Law, Malievsky said. Law took issue with the way the matter was handled.

In response, Malievsky apologized to Law.

"We don't have any problem with the gay community," Malievsky said. "We wouldn't carry advertising for most club establishments.

"We feel like we have to protect the littlest ears."

"Jack and I go way back with the Wave and 98 Rock," said Malievsky. "Jack and I are fine ... the offended party was happy."

Law told Malievsky he would take the matter no further, Malievsky said.

Nevertheless, Law's e-mail was forwarded to several media outlets and other e-mail boxes.

The matter sparked a furor and Moore, who is gay, says he is deeply hurt.

"It's 2005 and we are still fighting battles to be recognized simply as who we are," Moore said. "And with my age marching onward at an all-too-fast pace, I couldn't sit back and let this go."

The Honolulu gay community was outraged and e-mails began to pour into the station, Moore said.

"Needless to say, as the station's program director -- as well as a gay man -- I was outraged too and knew that Salem management would have to do something publicly to assuage the situation," Moore said.

Moore's suggestion for a public apology from Salem "fell on deaf ears," Moore said. Malievsky told Moore that Salem was not anti-gay, and noted that KHUI plays music by openly gay artists, Moore said.

"(Malievsky) then abruptly changed the conversation by expressing his displeasure with my programming of the Breeze and that my work was not satisfactory," Moore said. "It was obvious he was ready to sever our relationship."

Malievsky said yesterday he had been telling people for a couple months that he was concerned about the station's performance.

Malievsky said he and Moore disagreed on the direction the station should take. Malievsky wanted to add on-air personalities to the station, such as a live morning show "that (Moore) didn't want to work with," Malievsky said. "The music is not local-sounding enough. The music mix is really put together for a mainland Web-oriented group of listeners. We thought it would catch on here, but it didn't."

On Friday, the two sides agreed to part company. At no time did Moore's sexual orientation enter the conversation, Moore said.

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: eengle@starbulletin.com

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