‘Hawaii Calls’ radio program broadcasts from Kauai

On Sunday, March 28, 1971, beginning at 2 p.m., Webley Edwards (1902-1977) — the master of ceremonies of the popular Honolulu radio show “Hawaii Calls” — broadcast a musical salute to Kauai-born Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole at the Kauai Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue.

Performers from Honolulu honoring Prince Kuhio included Danny Kaleikini, Boyce Rodrigues, Lani Custino and Ed Kenney, who now resides on Kauai.

Well-known musicians making appearances were Ben Kalama, Pua Almeida, Alec Among, Joe Custino, David Kupele, Barney Isaacs, Norman Isaacs, Sonny Kamahele, Jimmy Kaopuiki, Gregg Molina and Bob Kauahikaua.  

Vocalists Nina Kealiiwahamana Rapoza, Mariam McWayne, Leilani Kuhau and Pat Lei Anderson, as well as dancers Hula Nicolet, Jackie Ben and John Albao also entertained.

“Hawaii Calls,” created by Webley Edwards in 1935 and hosted by him until 1972, broadcasted free, live Hawaiian music every Saturday afternoon, usually from under the old banyan tree in the courtyard of Waikiki’s Moana Hotel. The cheerful broadcaster also took “Hawaii Calls” on the road each year to one of the outer islands.

With Hawaiian instrumental music softly playing in the background, Edwards would open each show by grandly proclaiming, “Our Aloha, as Hawaii calls!”

Conductor, composer and songwriter Harry Owens (1902-1986) and his Royal Hawaiian orchestra were regular headliners on the show, as were Alfred Apaka, Haunani Kahalewai, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Boyce Rodrigues, Lani Custino, and Pua Almeida.  

Also starring on “Hawaii Calls” were Martin Denny, Hilo Hattie, Beverly Noa, Ed Kenney and Arthur Lyman.

Harry Owens, best known for his song “Sweet Leilani,” is credited with writing about 300 Hapa Haole songs.

What’s more, Owens preserved many traditional Hawaiian songs and tunes by writing them down using Western musical notation for the first time.

In 1987, Harry Owens was awarded the Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award from The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts for his substantial contributions to the entertainment industry in Hawaii.

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