Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hawaii Calls!

The program traces its origin to July 3, 1935 when the first Hawaii Calls radio program was broadcast on mediumwave at 7370 kHz under the callsign KEQ. The program was performed live at the Moana Hotel on the beach at Waikiki. The program was created and hosted by Island radio pioneer Webley Edwards. It focused almost entirely on local artists, playing Hawaiian music. At it's peak the program was carried on 600 radio stations across North America and the Pacific rim.Edwards learned his radio chops at KOAC, the campus station of Oregon Agricultural College. On the American mainland the program was probably hear d at 11-m or later. But in Hawaii that was 5pm, a prime-time program. This was via KIO on 25.6 metres. In 1938, station station 760 KGU-AM in Honolulu started carrying it locally. In 1943 KGMB picked up the production from Webley Edwards. But that didn't' last. They handed it off to KHON who in turn passed it to KPOA in the 1950s as it's popularity faded. More here.

The program ceased in 1975 with only 10 stations still running the program. For most of it's run the government of Hawaii had been subsidizing the production costs. Without that funding the ratings book mattered all the more. More here.
For a shortwave program this enjoyed great popularity. Capitol Records released a slew of "Webley Edwards present Hawaii Calls albums." They contained a mix of wave noises, schlock, and authentic Hawaiian music. Many of the featured local artists on these albums went on to release solo albums and even short careers. I own a number of these. The releases dates all seem to fall between 1956 and 1966. Only a fraction of these are still in print.

Webley Edwards went on to be the first broadcaster to announce news of the attack on Pearl harbor and was also present for the surrender of japan aboard the USS Missouri. He went on to the state legislature of Hawaii. The Internet Radio Station Aloha Joe vintage Hawaii calls Programs every Sunday.