Radio Has Been Maui’s “Only Lifeline” As Wildfires Rage


    Communities in Hawaii are grieving and looking toward a long recovery after last week’s devastating wildfire in Maui which claimed more than 90 lives and destroyed the historic town of Lahaina. Yet in the island’s dark hour, radio has shined through proving itself as an irreplaceable tool, providing information through the tragedy.

    Radio Ink talked to Chuck Bergson, President and CEO of Pacific Media Group, which runs six stations on Maui.

    “Radio has been the only lifeline and line of communication to the people of West Maui. For days there has been no power, no water, and no Internet service. The power is slowly coming back online.

    It was frustrating in the early stages of the crisis because the local government officials did not fully understand the capabilities and importance of radio. In the beginning, they were directing people to a website but that was useless because no one had internet.
    We eventually got the government leaders to give us information updates [to get on the air]. We were asking for them as often as possible, but ended up with a 9 AM a 12 noon and a 3 PM update daily. Our team worked tirelessly and into long hours into and overnight to keep the public informed and calm.

    In this incredibly stressful time we have been nonstop providing information to people on where to get emergency supplies pick up locations for food and water and evacuations shelter locations as well as road closures. The support of the community and engagement of the community rallying together to help one another has been truly inspiring.

    Social media was ineffective in the early stages due to lack of internet, but digital media, particularly our news and information website, kept the other parts of the island with internet and power informed.

    I am proud beyond words of the dedication and love my staff has shown to our island ‘ohana (family).”

    Pacific Media Group has been joined by KAOI Radio Group, KPMW FM 105.5, and KAKU 88.5 in broadcasting the aforementioned updates.


    1. The fight against AM makes this country extremely vulnerable–AM gets through when FM which is line of sight cannot. AM also supports specialized broadcasting for ethnic and rural communities. I’d say the fight against AM in cars is racist.

    2. Tragedies like this are unavoidable. Reports are coming out regarding the lack of information from local officials-but AM/FM stands tall. Joni Mitchell said it first-“ don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone..”

      These are perfect reasons to keep the legacy of towers ‘n transmitters going strong-and beef up the content portion so that people will USE these media even when life is normal. I hope I’m not spitting into the wind.


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