Happy Birthday to Us

Molokai Dispatch celebrates 25 years.

For the past 25 years, The Molokai Dispatch has brought news to this island community every week, endured the hardships and joys right along with its readers, and survived the odds to become the longest standing – and currently only – newspaper on Molokai.

Over the years, the Dispatch has changed hands many times and evolved into a publication written for and by the people. By upholding a set of values and guidelines aimed toward community empowerment and healthy dialogue, the Dispatch has developed a focus on youth, culture, history, politics and the environment to best serve the interests of the entire Molokai community.

Along the way, the Dispatch has survived under five owners, three taglines (remember ‘The Coconut Wireless of Molokai?’), and countless writers and interns, but has remained a free, community paper.

Strong Roots
It all began in 1985 in Myrle Florea’s house in Kalae. Articles and pictures were physically laid out on a table, pasted down, and sent through the mail to Maui for printing in a large portfolio. Creation of the Dispatch has come a long way since then, and today, content is collected digitally and laid out on a computer.

Florea passed management of the paper onto Bill Bevens around 1989, who began the internship program, according to former Dispatch writer Kathleen Larson. Bevens moved the location into Kaunakakai – a more convenient location to follow the happenings of the island – and set up shop in the old Kaunakakai electric office.

A few years later, Bevens sold the Dispatch to Charlie Pastorino in 1992, who then passed it on to Gerry and Edie Anderson. The Andersons moved the headquarters again – first to the Pizza Café building, then to Maunaloa.

Local boy Todd Yamashita bought The Molokai Dispatch from the Andersons in 2006. After 10 years away from his home island, Yamashita returned with enough zeal to take on this contentious business we call news.

Many of features you find in the current Molokai Dispatch has made have been under owner and editor-in-chief Yamashita’s leadership. Bringing the paper’s headquarters back to Kaunakakai, he updated the Dispatch to the 21st century by adding a website, starting social network feeds and changing the newspaper to the more common, and readable, broadsheet format with the tagline, “Molokai News, Molokai Style.”

Mahalo Molokai
The Dispatch still brings you news thanks in large part to the ongoing support of the Molokai community. The Dispatch thrives off its community contributed stories from keiki to kupuna – celebrating baby luaus, printing opinions on windmill development, offering local agriculture advice, reporting on school events and more. In addition, interns travel from around the world to have the privilege to live on Molokai, reporting on the island’s events as both a service and a learning experience.

The purpose of the Dispatch has also remained true to its roots: to dedicate itself to “the future progress and prosperity of our island home, the youth of our island, and truth and fairness in journalism” – as said in the Dispatch’s first issue: Jan. 16, 1985.

From all of us here at the Dispatch, we say mahalo nui loa to our loyal readers and advertisers for the community’s continued support. We hope to bring you the island’s news for more years to come.

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