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"It all started on a small island in the middle of the Pacific..."

You all know how the legend of the Radio Revolution starts. For me it started when I arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, in August 1996. I had seen the fruits of commercial radio (you know the kind, top-40, adult contemporary format) in Sweden and wasn't really expecting things to be better in Hawaii. I was expecting more of the same old tired programming, possibly with the addition of corporate rock and a mainstream modern R&B stations. It turned out that I was wrong. Way wrong.

I will always hail Swedish state radio channel P3 as the best music radio in the world. My arrival in Honolulu hasn't proved me wrong on that point. P3 still rules.

But, I soon found out that their was a refreshing alternative among the commercial radio stations. Broadcasting over the FM dial, call letters KDEO, frequency 102.7, Radio Free Hawaii. The station was controlled by its listeners. The music ranged from jazz to alternative, from soul to ska, from hawaiian to rock, from punk to hip hop. The station was excellently programmed, making sure that the mix never felt awkward or constructed. It wasn't as chaotic as you might think. (See my nine song excerpt below)

In early March of this year (1997) it all came to an end. RFH had been struggling financially and the owner of the frequency felt that he could not afford to keep RFH on the air. The frequency was sold. Cold. But fair. The station couldn't find enough advertisers. The ratings showed that there weren't enough listeners (calculations show anything from 10,000 - 50,000; Sheriff Norm of RFH claims 40,000).

The radio revolution hasn't died. The team behind RFH is struggling to get a new frequency, re-establishing the station as a non-profit organization. I hope all goes well and that RFH will be back on the air shortly (if it happens in 1997 I consider it fast). If you want to support RFH, check their home page for more details.

I have included two listings of the music played by RFH. One list is one of the last Hawaiian Island Music reports (the weekly top 36 as voted by the RFH listeners), and the other one is a nine song sample that I wrote down late fall 1996 (probably around October/November).

I have also included two articles found in a recent edition of the Honolulu Weekly. Together the two articles illustrate the effect Radio Free Hawaii had on its listeners. I have also decided to continue the discussion started in the second of the two articles (if you want to tell me what you think, please feel free to send me an e-mail. I'd be happy to post your views on this page).

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