Slowly but surely, statewide media network forms

George Hochman, who like another Kaua’i radio station owner has a Maui FM station in his arsenal, isn’t too concerned about radio competition on Kaua’i or Maui.

The man who does two on-air shifts a day as “The Boss” on his Kaua’i stations, HITS 99 and Island 98.9, has a much broader vision.

“Our goal is to be statewide,” with combinations of radio stations, real estate magazines and Travelhost magazines on the four major islands, said Hochman, partner with wife Dianna Hochman in H Hawaii Media.

John Detz, owner of KONG Radio Group, also owns stations on Maui.

George Hochman is president of Hochman Hawaii One, Inc. and Hochman Hawaii Publishing, Inc., doing business as H Hawaii Media.

The next stops for the company are the Big Island and O’ahu, and before he’s through the company will have two magazines and at least one radio station on each of the four major Hawaiian islands, he said.

There are already Kaua’i versions of The Real Estate Book and Travelhost magazines, and the Maui Real Estate Book debuts next month. The Maui Travelhost magazine will be on racks sometime during the fourth quarter, he said.

The company recently purchased Maui radio station KONI-FM for $1.15 million, from Ivan Dixon, an actor and director before he was a station owner. The Maui radio station carries the same format as HITS 99 (KTOH-FM 99.9), which is 1960s to 1980s oldies.

KITH-FM 98.9 has dropped “Travelhost” from its name, opting to be known as Island 98.9 and featuring Hawaiian and other local music. Adding on-air personality Ka’iulani Edens to the morning mix furthers his vision of more local appeal for that station.

HITS 99 carries the call letters of the island’s first radio station, KTOH, founded and formerly owned by Charlie Fern, former editor of The Garden Island.

It was Ron Victorino, Sr., who does a show each Sunday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., “Memories of Kaua’i,” who told George Hochman the story of those historic call letters. Hochman contacted his radio attorney in Washington, D.C. to see if those call letters were available, they were, and he grabbed them.

H Hawaii Media also holds statewide distribution rights for Travelhost magazine.

Through the magic of computers, and out of economic necessity, if you’re driving on Maui and tune into KONI (104.7 FM), you may hear the voice of Shelly Cobb, who lives on Kaua’i and does a morning show on HITS 99.

With three stations on two islands but a budget that won’t allow for 30 personalities, there is much “cross-utilization of talent,” meaning the surviving Maui on-air personalities could also be heard on the Kaua’i stations, by recording “snippets” to drop into the semi-automated formats on both islands, he explained.

Paul “The Local Boy” Douglas, for example, does mornings on Maui, and nights on Kaua’i, all without leaving the comfy confines of the stations’ Rice Street studios inside Watumull Plaza.

Although a statewide media empire is the ultimate goal, George Hochman, 47, doesn’t plan on abandoning Kaua’i as headquarters. Kalaheo, where he lives and maintains a home office, will always be his residence and primary place of work.

Their children attend local schools, and he has a home he loves. “This is home for us.”

As proud as he is of his multimedia organization under construction, he is ecstatic to feature the homegrown talents of Cobb and Edens. It is radio rarity to have women on-air personalities occupying the all-important morning drive slots (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.), he said.

As for “The Boss,” you can hear him (either live or sometimes taped) middays on HITS, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and afternoons on Island 98.9, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“I enjoy it, and it makes good business sense,” said Hochman, who has 25 years of radio experience under his belt.

Both Kaua’i stations have 100,000 watts of power, the most allowed under Federal Communications Commission rules, and with a total of four transmitters the coverage is essentially island-wide.

Only FM97 (KFMN 96.9) has as much broadcast power on Kaua’i.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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