Publisher’s Page: The Stories of Our City

How HONOLULU and HPR share a common mission.
Alyson Helwagen
photo: karen db photography

Every April, our team heads over to the studios at Hawai‘i Public Radio for an evening or early morning shift answering calls during the station’s pledge drive. We’ve been doing it for longer than any of us have worked here. We’ve been doing it for so long that no one knows when it started, just that “we’ve always done it.”


Our partnership with HPR stretches back decades. Quite a few of you reading this now are doing so because HPR offers members a subscription as a thank you for donating at a certain level. We also donate advertising to the station every month.


Recently, I attended a luncheon for HPR, where general manager Jose Fajardo offered some insight into the size and engagement of HPR’s audience. The station has 14,000 members on the rolls now, and every week attracts 195,000 listeners—one of the largest radio audiences in the state.


Public radio’s success in Hawai‘i was anything but guaranteed. When HPR began broadcasting, in November 1981, radio advertising in our market had hit a new low, and stations were changing owners more and more frequently. We covered the state of radio in a June 1981 cover story:


The island has 25 stations—17 AM and eight FM … Some O‘ahu stations are family affairs, others are corporate affairs. More owners are Mainlanders than kama‘āina. They range from Coca-Cola Bottling of Los Angeles (KKUA and KQMQ) to the Weiser family of Honolulu (KUMU). Since Hawai‘i is thousands of miles from other radio markets, our signals do not overlap and interfere with those from other cities. And so the FCC has allowed Hawai‘i stations to increase and multiply. A few of these are consistent and profitable businesses; most are forever scrambling for a respectable percentage of the listening audience and a respectable percentage of the advertising dollar. FCC statistics for 1979, the most recent data available, show Hawai‘i’s stations losing $1,295,030 during the year. No other radio market did as poorly; Hawai‘i was ranked 253rd out of 253 U.S. markets. The only silver lining: Hawai‘i radio lost even more the year before.”

  HONOLULU Magazine June 1981

The June 1981 cover of HONOLULU. HPR launched in November that same year.


The thing that has helped HPR weather that turbulence is the same thing that has buoyed HONOLULU—a paying audience for accurate, relevant and timely journalism. Today, HONOLULU is the largest local paid-circulation magazine in the state. The fact that you, our readers, continue to pay to have the magazine delivered each month is a key reason we are still here, celebrating 130 years. While our content is different in topic and scope, we do have a similar mission to HPR—to tell the stories of our city—and that’s why our partnership has lasted so long.


Listen in to our team on HPR this month—April 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. We’d love to take your pledge and start or renew your subscription to HONOLULU at the same time.


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