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Remembering KPUA's "J.K."

Back in the early 70s from Hilo, Hawaii came the nightly top 40 rock n roll radio show with DJ Jim Kennedy. He was popularly known as "J.K.", and took nightly requests and dedications on his nightly radio show from 6:PM to 10:PM from Hilo's KPUA Radio 970 AM. J.K.'s show featured a weekly countdown of Hilo's Top 21 Hits. The countdown was sponsored by the Hilo Woolworth's store on Keawe Street.

Disc Jockey Jim Kennedy Every Monday night from 6 to 8pm I'd gather around my radio and listen to the countdown. J.K. made the thing somewhat funny and had his listeners hooked with the weekly top 5 "scramble" where listeners had to figure out what the next week's top 5 records would be with a short snippet of each featured on that night's countdown. The snippet was pretty much scrambled, and in order to win you had to know your music.

I think I won this contest about 2 or 3 times during the 2 years I spent listening to the show. Besides that contest, KPUA radio and Woolworth also had a nightly lucky number drawing, where listenrs could win various prizes (usually 45 rpm records). The lucky numbers were printed on each week's Top 21 Survey which could be picked up at Woolworth.

My sister, brother and I would always go to Woolworth and come home with a wad of surveys hoping to win something each night we heard those numbers called. Fact is, I won several times. Most of the prizes were records or small merchandise from the Woolworth store.

I never met J.K. while he worked at KPUA. I did get to be pretty good phone buddies with him, as I called almost every night and won just about all the contests he ran.

In mid 1973 J.K. moved to Kauai and started broadcasting on KIVM radio (1350 on the AM dial). It was there on a trip to Kauai that I met him at the station, which was located in the middle of a canefield not too far from Lihue Airport. True to his on-air personality, Jim turned out to be a fun guy in person and was doing a whacky thing there... playing the old "Monster Mash" song backwards after he played it forward. Hilarious.

Years later I heard he was still on Kauai. However today, I don't know where the guy is and doubt he is still broadcasting in the islands if at all.

-- Melvin Ah Ching


Photo: J.K. at Kauai's KIVM Radio station (1973).

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