story by Liza Simon
photo by Jim Shea
It’s 1992 on Kaua‘i and the island’s only two radio stations are going the way of pre-fab, Mainland-generated playlists. Just when it seems that things can’t get any worse—for alternative-minded music fans, at least—Hurricane ‘Iniki slams into the island, knocking out power and severing all lines of communication … which, it turns out, provides one small blessing in disguise.
“There we were, sitting around under the stars at night and sighing about how it felt like the middle of nowhere,” says Victor DeAnda. “And then it came: What’s stopping us from getting together and putting our own radio station on the air?”
DeAnda admits that he and his cadre of “like-minded friends” faced a steep learning curve. But after five years of planning, KKCR, Hawai‘i’s first ever community-owned and operated radio station, began broadcasting from a site in Princeville, surrounded by ironwood trees and flocks of wild chickens.
Today, aside from biennial fund-drives, underwriting support and the skills of a general manager on payroll, KKCR survives solely on the passion of numerous volunteers, culled from all walks of Island life. Roughly seventy djs are each responsible for creating their own three-hour blocks of programming. It’s a set-up that guarantees a dizzying aural pastiche, which on any given day can span everything from Bach to rap to gardening talk shows. And every single show has its own legion of devoted fans.
“Over the years, community radio has become a community itself,” says DeAnda, who recently stepped down from his KKCR board position but continues to host a blues show. “The dream that has come true is even better than the dream we started with.”
KKCR broadcasts at 90.9 in Hanalei, 92.7 in Anahola, 91.9 throughout Kaua‘i and 104.7 on O‘ahu, or you can tune in via the internet at www.kkcr.org.