That dead space under the preset button on your car radio is about to come back to life.
It's hana hou for Mana'o Radio.
In fact, that will be the new signature - Mana'o Hana Hou Radio - when KMNO resumes broadcasting June 1 at 91.7 FM. The station's well-loved founding mother, Kathy Collins, will be on hand to pass the torch to station manager Tony Novak-Clifford to start the next chapter for this cherished, unique and eccentric radio voice of the island.
"There will be some familiar faces and some new faces," promises Tony, one of the island's top professional photographers and a familiar on-air Mana'o presence. His other job titles at the station include "secretary of the board of directors, head janitor and staff psychotherapist," he says.
It's not faces so much as voices when you're on the listening end. Bill Best, the voice of the morning, tops the list of returning DJs, all of whom, like everyone else involved in the station, are doing it for love, not money.
Everyone's a volunteer. Applications are underway to file the new overseeing Maui Media Initiative as a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As opposed to the kind of college, NPR or rich-benefactor support little radio stations at the left end of the dial usually get, Mana'o has always been more grass roots.
It's always been a labor of love, rather than profit, to operate . . . or to be part of. The payoff in my case came with the gratitude of having gotten to share 15 minutes a week on the air talking about movies with Kathy Collins for the last several years.
Even just being a listener, there's always been a sense of ownership with the little station that could. On June 1, it begins anew.
Don Lopez, who's been there from the beginning, will be back as a DJ, and will continue to engineer the live broadcasts. Upcountry Sundays at Casanova in Makawao will return. So will Sunday Morning Celtic.
From the 60 watts it started with, the station is boosting its power to 140 watts. With a new transmitter en route from Nova Scotia, KMNO has filed an application to increase its power to 1,400 watts, "which should carry us over to windward Oahu," says Tony.
John Bruce, "the engineer who has been with us forever," will continue to man the controls.
A new audio-stream processor is among the $20,000 that's been spent to get the station back up and running. It will improve KMNO's Internet presence. Plans are underway for more classical music, as well as more talk content, especially in the Hawaiian language.
As opposed to the friction often attending current Hawaiian issues, "We're looking for someone who can help bring the Hawaiian community together," says Tony.
"We've got a new guy for reggae who's a real Jamaican," he adds.
Seventy-five percent of the staff will be back. Randall Rospond and Dr. Nat will still be holding down their monthly Saturday afternoon guest spots.
Behind the scenes, Tony credits board President Alan Sheps as a key factor in the station's return.
"Going off the air made people realize what a pain in the a- we are," concludes Tony, "We hope to be more so in the future."
There will be some great hometown - or at least, home island - connections when the Maui Film Festival (www.mauifilmfestival.com) returns to Wailea and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center June 4-8.
At 8 o'clock opening night, "SuperMensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" will launch the new outdoor Seaside Cinema Music Cafe and Sunset Lounge below the Grand Wailea. This comic, festival-award-winning documentary directed by Mike Myers honors the legendary, visionary showman and 40-year South Maui resident.
The intimate, upscale Seaside venue will be the site for the celebrity tributes this year, and you can get a drink while you watch.
"Dying to Know," a documentary produced and directed by Gay Dillingham about LSD poster boy Timothy Leary and his fellow Harvard professor Richard Alpert, who went on to become better known as Ram Dass, will have its world premiere at 6 p.m. June 4 to kick off the Castle Theater screenings. Recognized around the world as one of the great spiritual teachers of our time, I think of Ram Dass more as a Haiku guy, a friend who just happens to be a guru by profession.
And speaking of celebrities, the festival will continue its trend of honoring some of Hollywood's best and brightest - not to mention, most gorgeous - rising stars, including Oscar night's best story, in the Seaside Cafe. Watch for the story in Thursday's Maui News.
* Rick Chatenever, former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and Emmy-nominated scriptwriter. Contact him at email@example.com or 344-9535.