KKCR celebrates 20 years on air

KAPAA — For two decades, Kauai Community Radio has provided a platform for local issues and unique music.

On Aug. 19, the station with a few paid staffers and an army of volunteers, will celebrate its 20th anniversary at Lydgate BeachPark.

“KKCR covers it all and more, a voice for the community,” said musician and beekeeper Todd De Keyser, who plays music on the Tuesday bluegrass show. “I listen for the variety of music and important information about what’s going on, whether cultural, environmental or economic. It’s unique because most stations are corporate and don’t have freedom to play what they want or talk about what they feel is important.”

Part of KKCR’s mission is to give a voice to under-heard people in the community.

“We wanted a radio station that could say what was going on here without being taken off the air by an advertiser,” co-founder Marj Dente said.

To comply with FCC regulations, the station had to be located more than 100 miles from another community radio, and one was located far enough away on Oahu as part of University of Hawaii. It took four years for a Princeville steering committee to form a non-profit corporation and get approval from the FCC.

“At the same time the sovereignty movement was gaining momentum,” Dente said. “Butch Kekahu was a big contributor and wanted to get the word out to the community.”

KKCR’s governing body, the nonprofit Kekahu Foundation, was established to develop a community-based group for sharing educational and cultural material with the public.

“We have air time specifically for you,” said Lindsey Cassandra, music director. “If you have something to say or music you’re passionate about, we want to be here to support you and let you be heard.”

The independent commercial-free station with more than 7,500 daily listeners worldwide encourages community members to volunteer and enhance its programming, including social, political, musical and cultural affairs.

The station has broadcast town hall meetings and panels for county council candidates. Its public affairs programming includes weekly call-in talk shows, plus arts, entertainment and community calendars.

KKCR is broadcast in Hanalei (90.9 FM), islandwide (91.9 FM), Moloaa (92.7 FM) and soon coming to Oahu (88.9 FM).

“People can call in while we’re live on the air and get the word out,” said Jeff Frisk, treasurer and volunteer. “It happens a lot of times if there’s something going on, like an emergency when the bridge is closed or there’s an accident and the road is shut down. The station was initially created because they needed some emergency broadcast airwaves on the North Shore.”

The Princeville-based station is run mainly by volunteers but has four paid positions, only one of them full-time. Its music programming includes vintage and contemporary Hawaiian, jazz, alternative, reggae, world, classical, rock, blues and in-studio live music jams.

“We want to play stuff you can’t hear on other radio stations,” Cassandra said.

The birthday party will feature local live music, activities for keiki and food for purchase. Proceeds benefit KKCR and The Kekahu Foundation. Everyone is encouraged to bring a cake to share.

“To show we’ve been trying to play unique music and support the community for 20 years, we wanted to have a physical place to meet people,” Frisk said. “Having disc jockeys, board of directors members and other volunteers at this party is a celebration to thank everyone in the community.”

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