Radio Cuts Local News

Molokai’s only station pulls daily updates.

Molokai’s only radio station will no longer air local news updates. The station’s owner, Honolulu-based Ohana Broadcast Company (OBC), made the decision two weeks ago.

KMKK 102.3, which plays traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music, had aired local news briefs three times a day since it began four years ago, though technical problems had kept the news from airing for the last month.

“I’m disappointed that they wouldn’t feel that Molokai needs local radio news,” said former news director David Lichtenstein, who was let go when the decision was made.

Lichtenstein said he suspects OBC is shifting its focus to target listeners on Oahu — at the expense of those on Molokai. KMKK broadcasts from a tower in Maunaloa and its signal reaches windward Oahu.

But OBC management insists they are committed to keeping the station local.

The company took over KMKK from its previous owner, Visionary Related Entertainment, earlier this year. Director of Programming Rick Thomas said they are approaching programming and formatting changes to the station they inherited cautiously and are open to reintroducing local news updates down the road.

“We don’t have a non-commitment to news, we just want to make sure it’s good,” Thomas said.

He said the island’s slow news climate makes daily news updates difficult.

“When there’s something to report, we’d definitely go in-depth with it, but if there’s nothing to report, there’s nothing worse than dead air,” he said.

OBC has enlisted KMKK DJ Zhantell Dudiot, who is on-air five hours a day, to serve as community liaison. She said OBC is receptive to community input.

“As opposed to coming in with all these preconceived ideas, they’re really a blank page,” Dudoit said, who has been at the station since it began.

Another point of contention between OBC management and Lichtenstein is advertising sales. Lichtenstein said he had offered to sell advertising to off-set the cost of his salary to keep news updates on-air, and that OBC management told him KMKK would not accept advertising from Molokai businesses.

Thomas insists this is not the case.

“We’re a commercial radio station like any other,” he said. “We’d make no money without commercials.”

Thomas said the station welcomes advertising from businesses on Molokai and off-island.

“The station is available for anyone who would want to buy time,” he said.


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