Nowhere is the growth of Maui since World War II more evident than on the airwaves. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Maui radios were tuned to Hawaii's only commercial radio stations, KGU and KGMB, both transmitting from Honolulu. There were no commercial radio stations on Maui.
Today on Maui, there are 21 FM stations and four AM stations, plus numerous "repeaters" needed to get line-of-sight FM signals over and around the mountains.
The first commercial radio station was built on the island by Maui Publishing Co. right after World War II. KMVI set up shop in two war surplus Quonset huts in Wailuku. The Maui News, also owned by Maui Publishing Co., moved from its High Street headquarters to the Quonset huts. Later, Maui Pub also put a television station on the air, selling it in the 1960s to KGMB TV. The radio station was sold a decade or so later, but the transmitter and tower stayed next to The Maui News offices.
The next Maui radio station was KNUI. At first, it operated out of studios built on Olinda road in a cow pasture. The three-room building had built-in electric heaters to combat the cold. Later, it moved to its present location in Kahului. One of the first personalities on the station being built by Rick Medina and Ron Vaught was Fred Duldulao, who hosted the dawn-patrol Filipino show.
"I used to go door to door in Puunene and show folks how to retune their radios from KMVI to KNUI," Duldulao said during a 1985 interview in The Maui News.
A decade or so after getting KNUI on the air, Vaught built the island's third station. KAOI FM went on the air in the fall of 1973.
In those days, Maui's radio stations tried to be all things to all people. The programming, including Filipino- and Japanese-language shows, varied according to the time of day, but it was all done locally.
If memory serves, the next radio station to appear in Maui County was KPOA FM. Studios were in a banyan tree on Lahaina's Front Street, although its converted taxicab transmitter was located on Lanai.
Following the evolution of radio stations on Maui through a host of call-sign changes, frequency changes and ownership changes would require more research than it's worth.
Eleven of Maui's 25 stations are owned by two outfits. Pacific Radio Group has six - KMVI (AM 550), KNUI (AM 900), KPOA (FM 93.5), KLHI (FM 92.5), KJMD (FM 98.3) and KJKS (FM 99.9). Visionary Related Entertainment has the KAOI Radio Group made up of five stations - KAOI (FM 95.1), KAOI (AM 1110), KDLX (FM 94.3), KNUQ (FM 103.7) and KHEI (FM 107.5).
Noncommercial, public subscription-supported Hawaii Public Radio checks in with three stations, KKUA (FM 90.7), KIPM and KIPH (both FM 89.7).
The First Assembly of God operates two stations, KUAU (AM 1570) and KIOM (FM 98.9). There's a third religious station, K210CM (FM 98.9). That last station has a low-power (100 watts or less) license and is operated by KEFX FM in Twin Falls, Idaho.
There are three other low-power stations, all noncommercial and all relying on public donations. The best known is KEAO (FM 91.5). The station begun by Kathy Collins and her late husband, Barry Shannon, calls itself Mana'o Radio. KAKU (FM 88.5) is an offshoot of Akaku: Maui Community Television. The third is another volunteer operation, KOPO (FM 88.9). The volunteers are all school kids who do the programming and production work in studios at the Paia Youth Center.
In the interest of fairness, the other radio stations in Maui County are KRKH (FM 97.3), KMKK (FM 102.3), KONI (FM 104.7), KPMW (FM 105.5) and KRYL (FM 106.5).
A brief rundown on the programming for all of Maui County's stations can be found on the Internet at hawaiiradiotv.com/MauiRadio.
I've been a radio fan since my small-kid days. In college, I briefly pursued a radio and television major. During the decades, my voice has been heard on three of Maui's stations so I'm probably biased when I say broadcast radio is the best electronic companion. Television and the computer require your full attention. Radio lets you go about your day. Pick the station that best fits your mood. You have plenty of choices on Maui.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.