Hawaii Radio & Television Guide: It's History - It's The Archive!

Elvin Ichiyama Remembers KORL, KKUA

Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 18:10:24 -0700 From: Elvin Ichiyama Reply-To: kweni@pacbell.net MIME-Version: 1.0 To: macpro3000@yahoo.com Subject: History of Top 40 Radio in hawaii

Hi Mel:

I LOVED your "History of Top 40 Radio in Hawaii" summary.. it brought back a lot of memories. I've been wanting to do something this myself for sometime. As you may remember me telling you awhile back, I lived in Honolulu till 1962, then again from 1970-1980. I can give you a lot of information for the 70s (that is, to the best of my recollection).

But I did want to add a few things for your info:

KORL: You mentioned that KORL had "all kinds of strange formats" in the 70s, but in fact, KORL was exclusively Top 40 from about 1975 till about 1981, when they switched to "Music of Your Life". Like you said, KORL (and before then KPOA and KKAA) was Top 40 in the early 60s before becoming at various times easy listening, talk, and oldies.

When they returned to Top 40 in the mid70s, they were jockless playing only Top 30 or so currents (no oldies or recurrents). They did this for approx. one year before going live with a superb personality Top 40 approach. Pat O'day (from KJR/Seattle) purchased the station sometime in 1976 and I started working there, first as a part time music assistant, then finally fulltime Operations Manager in 12/76. At that time, KORL was very current-intensive with a large playlist (about 50 currents), and was extremely early in adding new records (very unusual for Hawaii Top 40 stations, before or since). Hawaii Top 40 stations had been traditionally very late in adding new currents.

Sometime in 1977, we hired Dave Shaw as program director, from KQMQ-FM. He tightened the playlist considerably and placed currents in much hotter rotations.

This resulted in a No. 1 overall 12+ ARB I believe in the fall of 1977. KORL was very personality oriented, and some of the jocks I can remember on KORL were Lan Roberts, Steven B. Williams, Steve Clarke, Ron Wood, Sweet Charlie, Capt. Dan Cooke, Kimo Akane, Jim Peters, Bruce Brown, Miles Takaaze, Heidi Chang and Wili Moku, who got his start in radio overnights at KORL. During this period, KKUA was KORL's biggest competitor, and sometime afterward, KIKI became a major force too. During this period, other Top 40 competitors were KAHU/KULA, KQMQ and during the disco era of 78 and 79, KDUK and KPIG.

KKUA: This station was in fact KULA during the 50s and early 60s. I remember KULA playing some top 40 music (perhaps only in the evenings?) in the late 50s. But when KPOI went to Top 40 fulltime, I believe KULA became beautiful music. They switched back to Top 40 fulltime as KKUA in 1966 or 1967. When I first came back to Hawaii in 1970, I listened to KPOI (which happened to be on strike at that time) and KIKI, which had just converted to Top 40 (they still ran Japanese programming early in the morning).

KKUA went through a period of semi-AOR during 1970 and 1971 and I didn't like it at all. However, sometime around 1971, possibly coinciding with Ron King coming in as PD, the station went to a Drake-like Top 40 format, complete with shotgun jingles, and tight rotations. It was during this early 70s period that KKUA sounded absolutely FANTASTIC. Like you mentioned, KKUA had a top 20 countdown on Monday afternoons, and sometime around 1973 (?), they took "American Top 40" from KPOI. I used to listen to Jim Peters every morning while commuting to UH, and Ron King every afternoon.

I racked my brain trying to come up with the evening guy(s) too, and finally came up with Mark O'Hare who did 6-9 pm and Dick Wainwright who did late nights. Mark O'Hare was very good, but he was replaced later by Scotty Edwards, who was also good. I think KKUA became way too "talky" and "Hawaiian" in the late 70s when Ron Jacobs came in to do mornings. But (despite my opinion), the station continued to do very well in the ratings throughout the late 70s.

I can ramble on for hours on this subject. If you'd like to talk about this more sometime, I would be more than happy to do so, and to give any assistance I can provide to your history. If you email me, please send it to KWENI@aol.com.

Thanks again, Mel.. keep up the super work!

Elvin Ichiyama


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