A valued source of communication, Maui radio DJs grapple with lack of information

They hear it all from the music to calls of desperation.
Many on Maui are complaining that information from government isn't coming out as much as the disaster demands.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 6:29 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 6:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From taking calls of desperation, to sharing what they know when they know it, local radio hosts have long been a valued source of communication, especially during disasters.

However in light of the recent fires, many on Maui have expressed concerns that information from the government in times of disasters is far too sparse and delayed.

Lines of communication remain severed with cell towers burned to the ground. That’s leaving radio as one of the few dependable sources of communication, which is putting added pressure on local outlets.

Veteran radio host Ed Kapoi of KISS took a call from Napili, North of Kaanapali.

“People are desperate. Babies need diapers and formula. The elderly need their medication,” one caller said through tears.

It just rocks you to your core it really does. It’s hard to take those kind of phone calls,” Kapoi said.

Fellow KISS radio host Brandee Carvalho added, “We hear their crying, their tears, their desperate pleas. It is real. It’s very real for me.”

In another studio at Pacific Media Group, the Hawaiian music hosts are doing the same for their audience.

“From Oluwalu again, Lori letting us now that there are still families waiting there for some kind of food and supplies, and any kind of supplies and we are working at getting that for you,” Valerie Toro said on air.

The DJ’s efforts have been harder in this disaster. They say there’s a lack of information from the administration of Mayor Richard Bissen, who has only been in office seven months. State leaders like Gov. Josh Green have also been criticized for not providing local updates when needed most.

“It’s been very frustrating trying to get people to talk. Not to us specifically, but through us, to people who really need to hear their voices,” Kapoi said.

“When we don’t have those details available to us, for them its frustrating for sure,” Cravalho added.

The local radio DJs are calling on leaders to step up and help guide the public. Bissen said he will provide three radio updates daily for Maui residents.