Tune in to 91.7 FM on any given day on Maui, and you might catch some vintage rock, jazz, or blues riffs, or maybe some electronica, Celtic, reggae, or heavy metal, or it might be Hawaiian, soul, or even polka. On Mana‘o Radio, volunteer DJs with names like Reverend Jules and Pistol Pete spin eclectic music seldom heard on commercial radio, on shows with names like “The Cosmic Rock Fest” and “The Mindful Mix.” It’s a noticeable departure from much of what modern radio delivers. These local DJs have been bringing variety, originality, and authenticity into Maui’s cars and homes for 17 years.
To support its volunteer-driven, community-oriented mission, Mana‘o is throwing a Carnivale-themed party for Maui residents. On Sunday March 3, from 2-6pm at the VFW Hall (commonly known as the Veteran’s Hall) on the beach in Kihei, Maui’s music-loving community is invited to come out and enjoy themselves with good food and entertainment at a family-friendly event to support the radio and its important mission.
Ahead of the bash, I talked to Michael Elam, Mana‘o’s board president and development director about the event, the unique mission of Mana‘o Radio, and last year’s party that drew over 400 supporters.
“We’re having a Mana‘o Radio 17th birthday party!” he told me. “We’ve been on the air here on Maui for 17 years. It will have a Brazilian/New Orleans Mardi Gras theme. We’ll have excellent music by the Ono Grimes Band, Dr. Nat & Rio Ritmo, and Marimba Komborera. There will be New Orleans-style food, like gumbo and jambalaya, and other dishes catered by Nalu’s South Shore Grill. We’re holding a silent auction as well.”
Attendees are encouraged to dress for Carnivale. “People are encouraged to come dressed in costume, and there will be a costume contest,” Elam said. “We’re giving away free masks and beads. There will be a Brazilian dancer who will be dressed in an original, outrageous, spectacular, flamboyant costume.” The family-friendly event will also feature a face painter and a photo booth.
I asked Elam about the mission and vision of Mana‘o Radio. “We’re a nonprofit, non-commercial, entirely listener-supported radio station. All of us who work at the station are volunteers; no one is paid. We do it because we love it. Part of our mission is to bring music to the community that doesn’t get played on other radio stations.”
“All of our DJs are their own program directors, so they decide individually what they want to play. It’s not driven by some corporate mass-market thing. They’re all passionate about the music that they play. We are extremely eclectic; you can hear just about anything you can imagine on Mana‘o Radio if you listen to it long enough.”
The station’s afternoon shows are beloved by music aficionados. “One that’s very well known is The Time Machine with Michael McCartney; he’s on Saturday afternoons from 2-5pm. Another one is called The Blue Bus with Forrest, Thursday afternoons 2-5pm. The Hula Honeys are very popular and very well known; they’re on Friday afternoons 2-5pm. I can go on and on,” Elam enthused. Many of the volunteer DJs will be in attendance at the event.
“It will be a lot of fun,” Elam told me. “We are doing this to support the station but we’re also doing it for the love of Maui and to give back something fun and exciting to the Maui community.”
In a time of changing media and profit-driven music, Mana‘o’s mission seems even more relevant and poignant: music for art’s sake, service-oriented performers, creative passion, and local talent. This Sunday, you’ll have your chance to support that.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, with a limited number of advance purchase tickets available now at 808 on Main in Wailuku, 808 Deli in Kihei, or at their Eventbrite.
1136 Uluniu Rd., Kihei
Sunday, March 3. 2-6pm
$15/Advance; $20/At the door
Image courtesy Mana‘o Radio