The art of live radio is challenging, with heavy competition from the "i" world and a wide variety of media sources. But there's nothing like connecting to a radio personality, and being able to educate yourself about the local scene and beyond while in transit or at home.
Through its appealing selection, amusing banter and witty ads, K-Rock 97.3FM of H. Hawai'i Media has grown to be a reliable stop on the radio dial.
But "the hand that feeds" the corporate radio outlet made some decisions last week which leaves Maui's rock listeners even hungrier, with the sudden cancellation of "Ace's Radio Rehab" and "Spike's Sonic Playground."
"It's been a sad week-I'm still in shock," said sales executive Johnny Absalom (Johnny A), whose popular Friday "A-Train" show will continue.
Over two years ago, Johnny A asked longtime rockers Ace Costantino and Spike Fuqua to volunteer their time to help give K-Rock some personality-a live presence. According to a former H. Hawai'i Media employee who prefers to remain anonymous, they were "given the boot with no explanation" and never thanked for the time and money they invested.
"They weren't even given an opportunity to say goodbye to their listeners," said the source, adding that programming decisions come from the Kaua'i headquarters. "Nobody had the guts to tell them-it was left to Johnny to do the dirty work and tell his friends they had been discarded... "
Wednesdays' "Ace's Radio Rehab," Hawai'i's only radio show dedicated solely to punk and metal, featured the cool wits of hosts Ace and K-Rock Kara. Spike's Thursday slot with his comrade Clare Barclay pumped out "modern rock, classic alternative, indie gems and other worthy tracks that transcend genre." Both shows supported aspiring bands with on-air interviews and playtime.
"I appreciate them for supporting music in an 'against-the-grain' fashion," said guitarist Chad Kaya of Owaila and Entity Awakened. "And they didn't do it for the sake of being different, but because they loved the type of music they played, regardless of what's popular... they helped keep the faith."
"Thank you Ace, Spike, K-Rock Kara, Clare, Metal Mike and everyone else that helped make these shows so much fun to listen to," said Johnny A. "I'll miss you guys and the magic that you made on the air."
It's a shame to lose these airwave warriors, who have been such assets to our rock community. But I have a feeling this isn't the last we've heard from them. Rock on!