Truly independently owned and operated newspapers are pretty rare
these days. Once universally held by families, papers and magazines
today have largely disappeared into giant media empires that also own
radio stations, television networks, publishing houses, websites, movie
studios and even sports teams.
Maui Time Weekly, which turned 10 years old on June 24, is
different. For its entire existence, the paper has been owned and run
by a handful of people who live right here on Maui.
Begun as a small bi-weekly publishing surf interviews, community
features and the island’s first true entertainment calendar, Mark
D’Antonio and Tommy Russo—the two Chico, California transplants who
started the paper—spent the first years living, working, eating and
partying in the same Lahaina beach house. As the years progressed,
D’Antonio eventually left to pursue other interests (he still lives in
Lahaina) and Russo slowly and often painfully began converting Maui
Time into an edgy, newsy alternative weekly that today enjoys
membership in the prestigious Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.
Like the island of Maui itself, Maui Time’s past decade has been an
exciting and sometimes chaotic jumble. That’s why we’ve done something
truly radical with our anniversary issue: we’ve turned it over to the
community itself—to activists, land developers, community leaders,
public officials, artists, musicians, former employees and even a
Penthouse Pet—and had them tell us how Maui Time has touched their
Sure, there’s an element of risk to telling such a diverse group of
people—some of whom felt Maui Time’s sting as recently as last
week—that they can write whatever they want about the paper and we’ll
print it verbatim without response. Then again, can you think of a
better way to show the paper’s eclectic, dynamic, scattered and often
To our surprise, the vast majority of those we asked agreed to
participate, usually happily and without hesitation. What follows are
their thoughts, memories and criticisms of Maui Time’s first 10 years.
When you’re Maui’s only locally owned, independent newspaper, sometimes you have to take risks.
Supervising Public Defender, Maui
Thank goodness Maui Time Weekly exists. That thought runs through my
mind every time I pick up a new issue. I believe Maui Time is Maui’s
only truly independent newspaper. It is the one newspaper that
continues to seek truth, asks the hard questions, and really
investigates the important issues in this community.
I’ve written letters to the editor to The Maui News and the only
ones that get printed are the ones that don’t negatively reflect on
their advertisers. Maui Time on the other hand, seems to print
everything, even the negative letters, even the letters that ream them,
their reporters, editors and advertisers.
When I want real information, I turn to this paper. It is obvious
that editor Anthony Pignataro really doesn’t care about the political
fallout from the “powers that be” and I love that he continues to
produce a paper that reports the news through such an independent lens.
I believe in the First Amendment. Through my work as Public
Defender, I get called on to ensure that our clients’ Constitutional
Rights are upheld. Even though indigent, my clients have the same
rights as all citizens, especially the right to free speech. In the
same vein, Maui Time obviously embraces the First Amendment. I love to
read the stories (and even some of the ads) because they speak freely.
They push the boundaries of the Constitution and aren’t edited to keep
out the bad news. In fact, they tell us ALL the news, good as well as
bad, with an independent voice.
The paper is thought provoking, interesting and even sexy. I love
the Maui 10 and LC Watch columns. I love that Samantha Campos continues
to tell us about her love life. Frankly, I love that Maui Time exists,
especially on an island where many, many stories and issues would never
be thoroughly investigated or brought to public attention otherwise.
Congratulations and Mahalo for 10 years of independent reporting!
President, Dowling Company, Inc.
For the last 10 years, Maui Time has offered colorful commentary on
a wide variety of topics from local news to pop culture, restaurant
reviews to entertainment options. Tommy Russo, Maui Time’s publisher,
has characterized the paper’s voice as “satirical, opinionated and
sarcastic” and designed to “intrigue, entrance and sometimes even
infuriate our readers.” Anthony Pignataro’s effort to provide in-depth
coverage of issues that affect the everyday lives of all of us who live
in Maui is laudable.
Independent newspapers around the country in markets much larger
than ours have had a very difficult time staying in business. Finding
stories of interest to a diverse audience in a small place like Maui is
no easy task. The newspaper has maintained its independent status over
the years as others have been acquired by large media conglomerates.
Alternative weeklies like Maui Time have challenged traditional news
coverage and broadened the media landscape.
Building a successful business over time while staying true to your
principles and vision is a daunting task. It is a struggle I am sure
the publishers, editors and writers of Maui Time confront every day as
do I and the 15 employees of Dowling Company. Being a small business in
Hawai`i is full of unique challenges.
Please accept our congratulations, Tommy, Anthony, Jennifer,
Samantha and all of the staff at Maui Time on your well-earned success.
All we ask is that you continue to make your best efforts to report
both sides of every story and that your coverage is fair and accurate.
We look forward to celebrating your 20th anniversary. Mahalo!
Owner, BJ’s Chicago Pizzeria
I remember when those two college grads were fresh off the boat in
Lahaina. The news they covered had to be within peddling radius with
their bikes. It is amazing to see how Maui Time has grown to be an
important part of our community! Congratulations to all of you!
As a 30-year Maui resident, I was ready for something like Maui
Time. I remember Tommy Russo, walking around the island talking to
people and selling ad space, and admiring his drive. For years all we
had on Maui was the Bulletin. It served its purpose but I think we were
all ready for something more “hip.” Something with some actual pictures
I will always remember the “Dawn of the Holoholo Girl.” Everyone I
knew read her column like it was a cure to the weekly monotony of life
on an island. We lived vicariously through her when we couldn’t be out
in the nightlife ourselves. I was always teased that she had a crush on
me way back then. After reading my name a few times in her column, I
realized how innocent her crush was and how truly flattered I was to be
somebody’s “crush.” Especially someone as cool as the Samantha Campos I
have come to know and love.
Since then I have been the subject of a cover story, and had an ad
running in the paper for five years for the Hard Rock Cafe’s “Reggae at
the Rock” on Mondays, and I still read Eh Brah! religiously, thinking
someone will be writing about one of my indiscretions someday. But my
favorite thing about the mag is that sense of humor that seems to
permeate it. Don’t lose that you guys… It is your edge, as I see it.
Not too sure I approve of the personals in the back sometimes, because
they remind me that Maui is not what it used to be, but that’s
something I must learn to accept about my little island home. Maui Time
Weekly helps me to do that. Respect!
Photographer; Surf Editor, Maui Time (1997-2002)
I met Tommy Russo the first day he was out trying to get
advertising. He showed me what the paper was going to be—basically, the
prototype. And I was just talking about surfing, and we just kind of
came up with a little idea to do a surf story every week. Since I’d
been on the island for a long time I knew who the key players were and
had access to interview them.
So I just started off, and I think Mark Anderson was my first
interview. He was really one of the best surfers on the island. Having
him in the first interview—a lot of surfers saw that and said, “Oh
yeah, I want you to do my story.” But it kind of started off just
questions and answers—I really didn’t know how to write, so I was just
kind of winging it in the beginning.
Mark D’Antonio really helped me out a lot. I was able to get the
concept out but I didn’t always have the right words and definitely
didn’t have the right spelling. In the beginning I didn’t have a
computer. So I would just hand-write everything and read it to Mark
over the phone. It was a nightmare for him—he had a million things to
do, and I’m trying to read, and he’s trying to correct the way I put my
sentences together. After a while I started to figure it out, but Mark
really had a lot of patience with me and believed in me.
Though there were a lot of times when the paper would come out and
Mark would put the wrong guy’s name under the picture. And everyone
thought it was my paper. That was the funny thing—all the surfers
thought it was my paper—and I’d just say, “I had nothing to do with any
of it! I’m just writing it on papayas and leaves.”
I was able to cover a lot of the contests and interview a lot of the
kids who are now international stars. Maui back then was just starting
to get on the map. People were just starting to take notice that there
were a lot of talented surfers over here. A lot of these guys had the
quality and the ambition to be surf stars but they just didn’t get the
exposure. It was exciting for a lot of these kids—when they’d come in
for their interview they’d be starry-eyed and couldn’t wait to tell
What was really cool is that I knew a lot of the photographers on
the island—Eric Aeder, Rick Leeks, Eps Sargent, Ron Loomis—and they
were shooting for Surfing and Surfer Magazine. They also wanted to
contribute, and it was a way for these photographers, who’d been taking
pictures of these Maui kids, to get some exposure as well.
The all-time favorite interview for me was Gerry Lopez. He’d been my
favorite surfer since I was probably seven years old. After that, that
was it. And I saw that the paper was shifting in a different, more
progressive way, and I just felt that it was time for me to step away.
I’ve always believed in Tommy and his vision for [the paper]. It
wasn’t necessarily my vision—I’ve always liked the surfing and
community, grass roots thing—but I believed in where it was going and
now it’s really turned into something a lot bigger than I ever thought
it would be.
Director, Maui Film Festival
Ten years ago two self-starters, one having just started publishing
Maui Time, ran into each other on the street in Paia and became fast
friends. One was Tommy Russo and the other was me.
Since that day, we’ve both run the risk of taking controversial
stances, sometimes popular and sometimes not, on the issues of our day
and shared a willingness to do what we’ve thought would make both Maui,
and the world we share Maui with, a better place to live and a beacon
of light to others who aspired to use their entrepreneurial zest for
the good of the community, both locally and globally as well.
To those who say that Maui Time has an agenda and/or a point of view
that it carries into “battle” against those powers that it sees as
detrimental to the community, I’d respond that while I may not always
agree with the stance that Maui Time takes on the issues of the day, I
strongly believe that it is important that the moral relativism—which
often masquerades as news on any number of media outlets owned by a
mere handful of companies and which always have a not-so-hidden agenda
in what they deem to be newsworthy—is no substitute for having the
intestinal fortitude to take a stance.
That is the stuff that freedom is made of.
Especially in George Bush’s America, the nation doesn’t have to look
too far to see where that kind of ostrich-like behavior and blind
obedience to the dominant media paradigms have led us.
So carry on, in this your 1oth year and beyond, Maui Time. It may be
an impossible dream that you chase each issue, but it is your ‘ohana’s
uniquely personal, albeit collective, dream. And dreams are worth
having, especially in a time that always has another nightmare coming
over the horizon of the next 24/7 what-passes-for-news cycle.
As Maui used to be, with the long defunct precursor of Maui Time,
the Maui Sun, as Honolulu is with the Honolulu Weekly, Los Angeles is
with the LA Weekly, San Francisco is with the Bay Guardian and New York
used to be with the Village Voice, Maui’s a better place with the
diversity of the reportage and yes—regardless of what I or anyone else
may think about it in any given week—opinion that Maui Time brings
So choose wisely, check your facts, let the chips fall where they
may, and always, always remember—no friction, no spark; no spark, no
fire; no fire, no heat; and no heat, no light. Live long and prosper.
Former owner/publisher, Maui Weekly
It’s something to celebrate. Ten years in the publishing business on Maui and still independent. Congratulations.
I was the founder and publisher of the Maui Weekly until a few years
ago and published the paper for six years before selling it to the
company that owns The Maui News and turning the reins over to an
excellent editor and her staff.
I always felt that having two alternative and independent newspapers
on Maui was a good idea. And although I was accused of not being
independent by the Maui Time Weekly, I still covered controversial
issues with a flair that often caused Maui Time to poke fun at us. We
loved the pokes however and never responded.
We owned the big cat story, which Maui Time never really focused on
but which we knew the community found fascinating. We hit some of the
issues that Maui Time found ridiculous and accused our coverage of
being less than stellar but hey, we resonated with our readers and they
loved the stories and the controversy.
And although I always felt a small rivalry—maybe even a little
jealousy—the simple fact that the Maui Time Weekly lasted 10 years is
proof in itself that an independent and alternative newspaper on Maui
was something the island supported and benefited from.
Congratulations on 10 years of publishing and wishing you continued success.
President, Na HALE O Maui
The first amendment in the Bill of Rights to our Constitution reads,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Newspapers such as Maui Time continue to perform a service that was
recognized at the beginning of our Republic as dangerous, controversial
and as deserving of protection from the detrimental impacts that can
often be visited upon those who act to carry out their mission as a
member of the free press.
Do newspapers always meet their obligation to go where the story
takes them? The answer is no. Can they cross the line and practice
sensationalized attack journalism? The answer is yes. Would we be a
free people today with the gains in liberty that we now enjoy? I doubt
that we would. A free press, whatever the periodic irritation it may
cause, is the foundation for the defense of all of our freedoms
including the remaining nine amendments in the Bill of Rights.
Congratulations to Maui Time for making it to the tender age of 10.
I only have one question. Is it true that Anthony Pignataro will be a
paid body double for CNN’s Nancy Grace during her upcoming remake of
the Esther Williams classic film Pagan Love Song?
Publisher, Maui Real Estate Weekly; Advertising Director, Maui Time Weekly (2002-2004)
What I remember most about working at Maui Time:
• That in 2002 I had the job of jobs—ad director at OC Weekly in
California, the best weekly in the country at the time. I was 26 years
old, living with my beautiful girlfriend and her dog in Newport Beach.
Then she told me she wanted to move back to Florida. She did, and
within six months was married, with kids on the way, in a house with a
white picket fence. I moved to Maui and went to work with Tommy Russo.
• That it took about three days for Samantha Campos—who began at the
paper as an unpaid intern—to work her way up to Calendar Editor. She
was the bomb. “Think nothing happens on Maui?” she asked us when she
arrived. “Well, I’ll show you.” At the time, she was living in Haiku,
working in Wailea and having to drive to our office in Lahaina. It was
at this point that I knew we would be successful: we offered something
people wanted to join, to be a part of. She believed in what we were
doing, and that meant others did, too.
• When I received this resume (see above).
• That we always seemed to scramble trying to make collections so payroll checks didn’t bounce.
• That sometime around mid-2003 we missed our print deadline, which
caused a catastrophic chain of events that led to Tommy, Jen, Sam and I
delivering the paper ourselves.
• That I had to repeatedly tell one employee who shall remain
nameless, “No you can’t drink alcohol in the office while you are
working; No, you can’t creep all of the women out at the office; No,
you can’t swear/curse/use foul language openly and freely in the
office.” The best part was when he tried to collect unemployment after
we got rid of him.
Co-host, “Monkey Spankers” on The Point, 101.1 FM; Advertising Executive, Maui Time Weekly (2002)
I first became friends with Tommy Russo in 1998, when he was running
Maui Time Weekly in its infancy (it was called Maui Time Magazine back
then) and I was doing a truly worthless show on The Point called “The
Bone Jar.” Tommy had a regular feature on the show, he’d come in around
nine o’clock or so (back then The Point broadcasted out of 505 Front
Street in Lahaina) and it was always my favorite part of the night
because Tommy brought such positive energy and you could feel it.
We’d play K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” and
everybody would sing “Read Maui Time” instead of the chorus. Tommy was
there for the craziest moments of The Bone Jar—strippers, psychics,
bums off the street, professional escorts, local bands—and his sense of
humor always pushed the moment and made the show more fun.
There are two qualities about Tommy Russo that stick out in my mind:
he loves people and he hates bullshit. He’s a “shirt off his back” guy,
and it’s never with an angle. I couldn’t wish more happiness and
success to Tommy and Maui Time Weekly. While I don’t always agree with
everything printed in this paper, I read it every week because this is
the only publication on Maui that points its finger and calls BULLSHIT
when they see it. We need that, especially here on Maui where it seems
that bullshit is the norm in politics and business. Happy Anniversary
to my friend, Tommy Russo, and the most provocative, interesting
publication in the state of Hawai‘i, Maui Time Weekly.
Penthouse Pet, March 2005
I wish I could say that I still remember when I picked up my very
first issue of Maui Time Weekly, and what it was in specific that got
me hooked on it (a cynical voice in my head tells me it might have been
the fact that it was free). But even though my memory lets me down on
this one, I do know that during the four years I was living on my
treasured island Maui I always looked forward to Thursdays when a new
issue was due. Not only has it always been the most useful guide to
know what was going down on the rock, its various regular features like
News of the Weird or Eh Brah! were sure to put a grin on my face, no
matter what mood I was in.
Over the years the paper’s critical undertone has definitely reached
a new climax, and I can only suspect that it has a lot to do with its
editor Anthony Pignataro. He definitely showed some courage with his
undertaking of “spicing the paper up a bit” a few years ago; being new
in town and asking the island’s only centerfold for an exclusive
interview is quite… well, let’s say risky. I was abroad when the issue
with my cover and headline story came out [“Fresh Faces,” Nov. 13,
2003], but I do remember it caused some buzz—and although I personally
got nothing but positive feedback from people I knew, I can imagine it
evoked some controversy elsewhere.
Maui Time Weekly is definitely not your usual conventional
newspaper, but anyone looking at my rather colorful biography might
guess that I am not all that into social conventions. I applaud Maui
Time for its critical, sarcastic and liberal way of bringing news to
the crowd. Happy Birthday, Maui Time Weekly, and I miss you already.
Can I get a subscription here in L.A.?
Host, Maui Talks-TV on Akaku
Maui Time Weekly (MTW) started its publishing run 10 years ago, as a
surfer, music, arts and entertainment bi-weekly newspaper relating
mostly to the youth of the island. Since then, the citizens of Maui
have been more informed, better off and definitely entertained. Over
time, MTW has morphed into a well-written and educational weekly
publication, advocating a progressive, hard-hitting and environmental
slant in its editorial positions. It has become the last of the daily,
weekly and bi-weekly publications on Maui that will do investigative
reporting on controversial issues, challenging “business as usual” and
the large landowners, multi-national corporations, developers and the
elected officials in their pockets, who are hell-bent in paving over
Maui in a mad and insane rush for billions of dollars in profits. As
Maui becomes almost exclusively a retreat for the rich and famous, a
tropical island to have that dream second or third home on a beach
which formerly had public access, or in an exclusive gated community,
MTW does not back down. MTW is willing to challenge this insane
development and in a more often than not amusing fashion, pointing out
this sad state of affairs on this most unique former island paradise.
Maui is no longer a rural land, inhabited by mostly a Polynesian,
Pacific Islander and Asian population, but is now a place where most of
the newer residents and visitors are of European decent.
Yet, do not argue nor get on the wrong side of its editor. He can be
extremely caustic, vicious and seems incapable of knowing how to agree
to disagree in a gentlemanly way, which is a fault with the
publication. In addition, if a person writes into MTW defending someone
or something with which the editor may disagree, he takes full
advantage of his position to condemn and denigrate those who dare take
a different yet sometimes equally progressive slant on some item. He
also proves the point that someone who is somewhat inarticulate when
attempting to orally express a certain political, social or community
position, can more than make up for that lack in their verbal aptitude
by way of his creative ability to write about local issues.
Unfortunately, too often inaccuracies and misinformation does find its
way into his articles.
Has Maui passed the point of no return; has Maui been over-developed
and ruined forever? Is it too late to save Maui for future inhabitants?
Unfortunately, the obvious answer is yes. It will never again be the
serene, rural, friendly and pleasant place that it had been for
generations. In spite of everything, the challenges need to be
unearthed and the reality of the situation exposed. Maui Time Weekly is
about the last vehicle within the local printed media which refuses to
quit. Along with some local radio shows and some of the informative
local TV programs broadcast on Akaku, in spite of the thousands of
dollars which have been siphoned off from the cable franchise fees of
the community for public access and dumped into the black hole of the
general funds of both Maui Community College and the state Department
of Education, Maui Time Weekly is truly one of the few bright spots
left in the media world of Maui County.
Nevertheless, over the years, I personally have been fortunate to
win four awards by the readers of Maui Time Weekly in the yearly
“best-of” issues. My sincere mahalo and appreciation for being named
“Community Activist” of the year in 2004, at different times being
named as both the winner and runner-up as the “Political Activist” of
the year, in 2005 and 2006, and also having my weekly, live, call-in TV
talk show, Maui Talks-TV, which has been on the air for five years,
chosen as the “Best Akaku Program” in 2005. We should thank and say
mahalo to both the readers and staff of Maui Time Weekly for
persevering all of these years. We, the residents of Maui, have most
surely been the beneficiaries.
Owner, Four Winds Writing, Inc.; Contributing Writer, Maui Time Weekly (2003-2005)
It’s hard to make a living freelancing for Maui Time. Otherwise I might still be doing it.
Picture this: It was the summer of 2003. I was new to the island,
shacking up with a shirtless boat captain I had met over the Internet…
living on the fantasy that, one day, if I fed him right, he might just
become my boyfriend.
I had left a pretty well planned out life in Washington D.C., where
I had worked my way through grad school to a job I thought would make
me a real writer. I was finally getting paid for typing words on the
page, but I found myself everyday going from concrete to cubicle,
cubicle to concrete. I needed something more, although I didn’t know
what it was—more space, maybe… more sunshine. Probably just a little
more of the unknown. So I moved from an urban jungle to an actual one:
Somewhere in between my clumsy surf attempts and more magical Maui
moments, I got a freelance writing job with Maui Time. Suddenly the
risk of leaving a steady life and paycheck seemed more than okay, as I
realized that I could make this writing thing work on my terms. We’ve
all heard that somewhat overused phrase “the island will provide.” For
the first time, back then, I really believed it.
Although it might not have been the most lucrative venture I ever
invested my time in (read: I would have pretty much starved had I not
gotten some free meals out of the deal), working for Maui Time did have
perks: I got to meet Willie Nelson in person—and watch him record an
album in the studio with Marty Dread. I also got to interview an actual
Elvis impersonator—I mean, that’s the stuff a writer’s dreams are made
of. Maui Time also threw me the occasional freebie every now and
again—free concert tickets, free CDs, free tickets to the theater—all
under the auspices of Arts & Entertainment.
I made some new friends writing for the paper, and to my dismay, a
few new enemies (who will remain nameless here). But hey, I can now
proudly say I received my first and only crazy threatening phone call
as a member of the press. At the time, my editor told me you’re no one
in the business until you make somebody mad, but I don’t want to
believe him. I like to see it more as “the road to journalism is paved
with good intentions.” And in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a
little well-crafted sarcasm every now and again.
So congratulations Maui Time Weekly for 10 years, and mahalo for all
the memories. My days writing for the paper are over… as are my days on
Maui, for now. But I’ll be back. We all come back, right?
TERI FREITAS GORMAN
Director of Corporate Communications, Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Ltd.
Congratulations on Maui Time Weekly’s 10th Anniversary. It’s no
small accomplishment for an independent publication to succeed for a
decade on Maui. It’s almost analogous to an agricultural company
sustaining its business for 100 years on the same island.
Actually, our companies have much more in common than you’d first
imagine. Both of our businesses start with “Maui,” we both have
creative, intelligent young people on our payrolls, we are both trying
to navigate tremendous change in our respective fields and we both
believe we are contributing to the creation of a better today and
tomorrow for the people of Maui.
Last year, when you [Anthony Pignataro] and I first met over coffee
(okay, you drank juice), my first impressions were that you are
intelligent, politically minded, suspicious, opinionated, cynical,
droll, articulate, edgy, observant, quick-witted, self-confident and
entertaining. I usually find Maui Time Weekly to be a relatively
accurate expression of your personality, Anthony.
On behalf of the people of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc.,
ho`omaika`i `ana to you and everyone at Maui Time Weekly on your first
Owner/Creative Director, Dogtowne Design; Art Director, Maui Time Weekly (2001-2002)
It’s hard to believe that for the last 10 years our island has been
under the influence of a techie-geek obsessed with Chewbacca. Where did
the time go? Maybe it was the liquor luge that clouds my perception of
time… maybe not.
Tommy, the small foundation that you and Mark planted 10 years ago
from inside your closet has now spread into a King Kong-sized root
ball, deep in the heart of many issues. Your weekly paper has
positively affected many people and many businesses, including mine. It
was a pleasure to be a small part of it!
Tommy, my friend, congratulations from all of us at Dogtowne Design.
I like to think of Maui Time as a breath of fresh air, its light
presence deceiving a deep commitment: to inform a diversity of groups
without the enforcement of a heavy hand delivery, preferring to use a
delicate approach, a philosophy that is able to keep returning to the
stands for the fresh out of press issue.
Maui Time has done so much for the arts and culture that I could not
conceive its disappearance. It offers comprehensive coverage of so many
diversified subjects, a well-planned calendar of events, not to mention
the super witty Holoholo Girl column and always a challenging news
reportage that illustrates corners of politics otherwise not available
to the common people.
Just knowing that the paper is independently run, a vision manifest,
gives us a sense of hope in which creativity resides to the benefit of
us all, the devoted readers.
Marketing Director, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Thank you all for Maui Time! Lively, vibrant, current,
combative, obstreperous, funny, thoughtful, controversial,
dead-on, insightful, different, comprehensive, committed,
frontier-like, watchful, curious, seat-of-the-pants, colorful,
hilarious, informative, risque, loopy, adversarial, daring… and always
Oh, I was going to use my allotted words just to list ALL of
the words that might describe any or every issue of Maui Time… but you
probably get the picture already. No need to use a thousand words or
Seriously: For any community worth living in, there must be many
voices. Maui Time represents the questioning voice on Maui: questions
that are brought forward as food for thought… for the presentation of
dissent… as a spur to action… and sometimes simply as questions. (Who
says the Superferry is good and who says it’s bad? What exactly is
BioFuel? Why is Everett Dowling on the watch list? When is the next
best thing at The MACC, and what Wailuku karaoke bar-cum-restaurant
should we go to afterward? Where is that darn HoloHolo Girl this week?
And HOW exactly was that title selected for the weekly feature on the
Art Director, Maui Real Estate Weekly; Art Director, Maui Time Weekly (2002-2006)
As with all things that are the past, they help define where we are
now. I would not be the person I am without those experiences. Funny
thing about my memories of Maui Time Weekly is that they have little to
do with the work itself. I mean after all, work is work, but there were
so many great things that surrounded my experiences at the paper I had
to sum it up in a Top Ten list:
10. Working with many interesting people.
9. The rats that tried to make a “hands-free” phone call from the office’s back room. And no, I did not hallucinate this event.
8. Photographing food for the dining story, then getting to eat it for FREE.
7. VIP access to shows.
6. Trade dollars. It was like having monopoly money that people would actually take.
5. Watching sunsets from the office window at 505 Front St. in Lahaina.
4. The commute. Being able to ride my bike to work down Front Street.
3. Listening to the “Tonga” part of the Luau when I worked late, and watching the fire dance.
2. Meeting my future fiance. Classic… Yeah, she worked at the Luau.
1. My number one best memory of my time spent at Maui Time was
surfing on my lunch breaks. I could watch and wait until the crowd,
swell, tide and wind were all perfect. Score.
Iao Theater Building Consultant; former Executive Director, Maui OnStage (1992-1997)
In small town Maui, our tropical Mayberry, there is sometimes a
burden of what is not said. The warm and openness of our communication,
our accessibility to top government officials, and our relatively
easygoing lifestyle is tempered by the tendency toward gossip and
innuendo, aka “the coconut wireless.”
Everyone knows your business. Yet so few of us take a stand and
express our position on important issues in a tangible form. We’re
afraid of the ramifications of being bold because the next
job/contract/relationship will undoubtedly involve someone on the
opposing side of the issue. Maui Time Weekly has been a leader in
“putting it out there” since its humble Maui Time Magazine inception in
Beyond providing refreshing and thorough coverage of the arts and
entertainment scene, Maui Time Weekly should be recognized for its
contribution to the community, not being afraid to criticize, critique
and commend, even on tough issues—even if their position is
occasionally unpopular in the mainstream. As far as their coverage of
arts and entertainment, Maui Time Weekly is known for seeking the edgy,
interesting underlying story behind the publicity. They have been an
invaluable resource to spreading the word and increasing the popularity
of the charmingly historic Iao Theater, and we are so pleased that they
are our neighbors in Wailuku Town. Happy Anniversary, Maui Time Weekly!
Mahalo for providing a refreshing alternative on island news coverage!
Associate Editor, Maui Time Weekly (2002-Present)
Maui Time Weekly ruined my life. I’m not kidding. Since I started working at this rag, I will never be the same again.
I remember seeing the paper when I first moved to Maui 10 years ago.
It had just been born a mere two months before I arrived. To me it
seemed like a fresh, young community paper—it definitely had the voice
of the people I was getting to know on the island, and it really
captured the whole surf-music-party vibe I was quickly becoming
acquainted with on the Westside.
But I mostly remember the ubiquity of its founders, Tommy Russo and
Mark D’Antonio, at all the parties and events around Maui. I remember
thinking they were kinda hot, and very charming, vivacious and fun. I
even might’ve had a crush on one or both of them—that’s too weird to
recall, given my relationship to them now, but considering how they
were doing something innovative in a place where people were trying to
escape making any effort at all, it’s not too hard to imagine my
The paper had been around for five years and had just made the
switch from biweekly to weekly—also sans Mark as the editor—that
fateful day when I answered their ad for proofreader. Suddenly I was in
a room with four other people (and purportedly some rats) frantically
trying to put together a 28-page newspaper. It was glamorous, exciting
stuff—very DIY cool. And I was stoked to finally utilize all the
seemingly useless rules of grammar I had disturbingly never been able
We all had multiple job titles in the office, but nothing like
Jen—Tommy’s then girlfriend and now wife—who acted as office manager,
writer, editor and classified salesperson. My role as obsessor of the
proper place for commas and the purveyor of “they’re” versus “their”
and “effect” versus “affect” quickly included compiling film and
calendar listings. Soon after I got my first freelance writing
assignment—a preview piece for a Journey concert. Again, utilizing all
the seemingly useless info in my head about music and the ‘80s: I was
Every morning I would drive to Lahaina to work at the paper, then
drive to Wailea for my nightshift and then home to Haiku. That balance
worked well for me for a while. But when my four-year relationship
ended, I made other changes, too (it seems to be a pattern)—with the
encouragement of my college buddy Amy—and quit my high-paying but
mindless hotel job, moved to Lahaina and offered myself as a full-time
slave to Maui Time. It was a leap of faith I have never regretted,
despite the fact that I will never again be happy with just any ole
At some point, Jen and Tommy trusted me enough—and were too busy
running everything else—to be the interim editor, until they got a real
editor in the mix. They discovered Anthony, a news reporter at OC
Weekly, and began their campaign to get him over here; meanwhile, I was
secretly making frantic calls, asking for his expertly advice. He was
surprisingly patient, astute and reassuring, not to mention just
ridiculously smart with a wicked sense of humor. He taught me
everything, and he will probably edit this point out. Ultimately, he
challenged me, and the paper—quite possibly the island, too—to think,
push and be better.
I became so comfortable with Anthony that I would often roll in on
Monday morning, hungover, and plop down on his couch to describe my
exciting weekends of newfound singledom. Always thinking, Anthony
quickly encouraged—excuse me, Anthony does not so much encourage as he
does decree—that I tell the rest of the island about my doings. People
will hate you, he said. Then they’ll love you. Then they’ll do both,
but they will read you.
What a wild ride it’s been.
I remember going to my first Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
(AAN) convention, the year after we were accepted into the
organization. It was my first official year as a fulltime staff
member—the associate editor—and I enjoyed meeting this whole new world
of likeminded, and highly dysfunctional, newspaper people. And they
were very supportive of what we were doing on our little rock in the
middle of nowhere. It made me proud, which was addictive.
This has been the best job I’ve ever had. I started with a belief in
the ethics and concept of what Tommy and Jen and Anthony and the rest
of the motley crew of Maui Time were doing. They believed in me. It
became a passion, then a lifestyle change, and now a wrenching
obsession for informative, honest and irreverent journalism. But more
so, it’s all leaked into how I see the world and how I want to live my
Editor, Maui Time Weekly (2003-Present)
In my nearly four years as Maui Time editor, the story that haunts
me the most is one I never wrote. It concerned Steven “Stevo” Jensen,
the original lead singer of the Vandals. In September 2005, I got a tip
from an old colleague on the mainland that Jensen, a Maui resident, had
recently died. The story of his life and death might make an
interesting story, my friend said, and I agreed.
Starting where most reporters begin, I grabbed the phone book.
Getting his address, I then drove out to his Maui Meadows home. There I
found a tired-looking guy named Mike—the “caretaker of the estate”—who
was unloading the last of Jensen’s stuff into a truck. Surprised by my
sudden, unannounced appearance, Mike led me around back, to a tiny
‘ohana. “He died right over there,” Mike said, pointing across the
drab, mostly empty room to an old futon leaning against a cinderblock
Mike answered a few of my questions and dodged a few others. Then he
gave me his cell phone number and said he’d talk later. So I left,
wondering what the hell led one of the most famous punk rock singers of
the 1980’s to die at the age of 46 in a tiny Maui Meadows ‘ohana.
I called Mike a few times after that, but he never picked up or
returned my messages. After a week or so, caught up in other deadlines
and having to write other, more time-sensitive stories, I just dropped
the whole thing.
And I still kick myself for doing that—for not pushing harder to
find other leads. It’s funny that when I first took this job, I thought
it was to put exactly that type of hard-edged, compelling story into
Maui Time—a story no one else locally, or anywhere else, for that
matter, would touch.
But that wasn’t my job. No, my job was—and still is, to a certain
extent—to keep garbage out of the paper. My job was to make sure the
stories we ran were logical and made sense; lacked grotesque spelling,
grammatical and punctuation errors; and were free of outright lies,
libel and outright misinformation. If, after all that, I was able to
squeeze in a good story or two, more power to me.
As regular readers know, it’s been a slow process. Like most
alternative papers, Maui Time doesn’t pay writers very well. But as the
paper grows, and sells more advertising—which is how we make our
money—then we can hire more skilled writers with attitude and
experience and put more kick-ass journalism into the paper.
Don’t get me wrong—the paper is growing. Things are better today
than even in 2005. We have more brave, talented writers and staffers
than at any time in the paper’s history, but I still wonder how many
potential Stevo Jensen stories I’m missing each week. That’s the whole
point of honest journalism, right? To use our special media powers to
give the public important information and stories that will affect
Then again, maybe I’m just one of those editors who will never be
happy with the finished paper, no matter how many reporters I have
prowling the county. In any case, I can promise you that Maui Time
Weekly will keep giving you more and better stories about what troubles
Maui, and makes it special.
There’s no question that Maui Time’s last decade was crazy, and every indication the next one will be even more so. MTW