Quote Unquote: Meet Hawai‘i Public Radio’s New President, Jose Fajardo

There’s a new voice in town.
Photo: Aaron Yoshino 

Jose Fajardo (pronounced fuh-HAR-doe) takes over this month as president and general manager of Hawai‘i Public Radio, a position held for 17-and-a-half years by Michael Titterton, who is now retiring. Although Fajardo’s last gig was executive vice president of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, at 52, he has more than 30 years of public media experience, including a stint as president and CEO for WMFE-TV/FM public broadcasting stations in Central Florida. He’s planning to work in transition with his popular predecessor through the end of June.


CHANGE CAN BE a difficult thing. But I know I’m going there not to replicate Michael; I’m coming as myself and to do things I think are in the best interest of Hawai‘i Public Radio, working in collaboration with the board.


I REMEMBER at the age of 12 or 13 listening to the radio. I had secretly snuck into my bed an AM radio my father had given me. Listening to it and really connecting with the sound and how the personality was talking to me—at that moment, I just felt connected to the radio station and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.


I ALWAYS TOLD people who asked that my love affair was with radio, I just happened to do TV as well. 


MY SON lives here now. He’s stationed in the Navy. 


I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND there’s a lot of diversity in the community of Hawai‘i, and a lot of deep history with that diversity. I want to be engaged in the community and interact as much as I can.


ONE OF THE THINGS I love about HPR is it has a lot of great local programming. I’m a strong believer in local programming. That’s what makes public radio relevant in our communities.


THE STAFF AND THE BOARD AND THE COMMUNITY will need to be patient as Michael steps down and I step in. For some, it will be a bit of a shock to not hear his accent on the air. 


I DON’T COME TO Hawai‘i and HPR with an agenda. I don’t come with a list of things I want to change immediately.  It’s a learning process. My intention is to listen a lot. 


THERE’S ALSO A PLAN to perhaps start a capital campaign, to help redo the studios in Honolulu, or look for better spaces, or new technology.


I AM A NEWS JUNKIE, so I do listen to Morning Edition every morning and I try to listen to All Things Considered in the afternoon. I love This American Life. I love storytelling. 


FOR FUN, I love soccer. I’ve actually been playing in a coed soccer team for six years. I’m a strong left winger. If there’s a team looking for a left winger, I’m game.