KCCN FM 100 goes "On-The-Air" 30 years ago
KCCN FM 100: The Beginning starts with Skylark Rosetti
(Honolulu, Hawaii) -- On May 14, 1990; KCCN FM 100 began broadcasting in the Hawaiian Islands. It was amazing at that time, till 1990, no one thought HAWAIIAN music would work in the HAWAIIAN islands. Imagine that. It wasnʻt until the 1990ʻs that Hawaiian music finally got on the FM dial 24-7.
The woman who did that? Jacqueline Leilani Rossetti, the “Honolulu Skylark”. Later she would be just known as Skylark or “Sky” to her closest friends.
Skylark had tried for years to combine contemporary and traditional. She had already been playing traditional Hawaiian music for decades. Then she did something that KCCN General Manager Micheal Kelly said would change “the radio landscape of Honolulu forever.”
In an interview with Leslie Wilcox on Long Story Short, she said, “Every format had been covered in FM, but Hawaiian music. And I said, Why don’t you put Hawaiian music on the FM band? And they said, Well, will you do it? I said, Absolutely. Why shouldn’t it be on the FM band? Well, what kind of music would you play? Hawaiian music. You wouldn’t put the chants on FM, would you? Yes, I would. You know. And so it was an opportunity to hear chanting, in stereo, and music that has been recorded in stereo for years but never on a stereo band. It was exciting. It was a wonderful time period.”
That was the beginning of putting KCCN FM 100 on the air.
KCCN 1420 AM had been on the 4th floor of the Pioneer Plaza building for years. It was a hallowed place for Hawaiian recording artists as there were many parties, lots of late nights of playing music, talking story, Cuzn Alan Awana had live music on certain nights - live musicians playing sets in studio with Capt. Woody Barboza doing sound as he has done for years and years.
When the planning started for the FM station, the AM was moved into production facilities for a new studio. Then the building of the FM studios began; in the same space that the famed AM had been in. Anticipation grew day by day as music was being transferred from albums to “carts” that looked like 8 track tapes. CDʻs were being listened to. The studios were not “new”, they were put together using parts from other studios and production rooms. Building for the main studio and production room continued right up until May 14, 1990 and beyond.
Original Morning Personality Iaukea Bright came from the KCCN AM & KORL AM radio crews as well as overnights Donovan “Dr. D” Soto. Billy V was the “Kid from Kona”, given the nickname by Krash Kealoha and Skylark back in the KORL AM 650 days. He was the original music director under Skylark and did afternoons. Randy Hudnall came from the KCCN 1420 radio ranks and was evenings. These individuals became the first team on 24-7 Hawaiian Radio on the FM dial in the world.
The morning of May 14, 1990 started off with a blessing in the KCCN FM 100 studios. All of the on-air staff was there, General Manager Michael Kelly, Operations Rhoda Kihikihi, Front office manager Momi Cruz, Sales staff, engineering crews and just before 9:00am, they flipped the switch and we were live. Sounds of a Hawaiian chant filled the air. Then Gabby Pahinui. We all shook hands and hugged, then it was back to work, but It was a struggle to get to this point. But for the first time a radio station was playing hawaiian music 24-7 on the FM dial. That was Skylark. Her dream came true. That day opened the door for so many Hawaii Recording Artists both contemporary and traditional, radio announcers thru the years and gave birth to other radio stations, when owners and programmers saw the sudden surge in ratings. KCCN AM which was always in the Top 10, saw KCCN FMʻs ratings land them in the Top 3 and by the time 12 months had gone by, they were the #1 station in Honolulu. So now, suddenly Hawaiian music was mainstream and other stations saw
KCCN FM 100 saw a lot of its radio personalities continue their craft in broadcast to this day. Charly Espina Takahama is in the mornings at 99.9 KISS-FM Maui, James “Jimmy da Geek” Bender is on KSSK radio beside Michael W. Perry; his partner in the evenings was Leo Baldwin who is in radio markets that stretch from Indianapolis to Philadelphia to Florida. Devon Nekoba is in the mornings on 94.7 KUMU FM Honolulu, Shannon Scott & Mele Apana are mornings on Hawaiian 105 KINE. Honolulu along with afternoon personality Lina Girl Langi. J-Irie is still on KCCN FM 100. Gregg Hammer who spent a few months in the mornings is on KRATER 96FM Honolulu & Billy V is on Hawaii News Now Sunrise (CBS, NBC, Ind). This is based on information on hand at the moment with surely more to be added.