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How Hawaii Radio Connection spreads the aloha around Seattle

Its locally produced music and talk shows have been going strong since the 90s.

Three hosts at 91.3 KBCS's Hawaii Radio Connection wearing Hawaiian shirts with the station's logo in the background.

Hawaii Radio Connection used to operate out of a studio at Bellevue College before sticking to home recordings.

Photo via KBCS

Looking to take a trip to Hawaii without all the pesky jet lag? Try turning your radio dial to two unbe-lei-vable local shows.

Hawaii Radio Connection (HRC) has been around since the 90s, establishing connections with the large Native Hawaiian population in the Seattle area and offering listeners a taste of Hawaiian culture.

Every Saturday at 9 a.m., HRC on KXPA (1540 AM) mixes comedy, interviews, and community news — kind of like NPR, but with island vibes. Then over on Bellevue-based KBCS (91.3 FM) at noon, HRC produces two hours of easy-listening Hawaiian tunes. Perfect staycation soundtrack.

After three decades of tropical beats, the wave just keeps on growing.

Humble beginnings

It all started back in 1991 with a simple request. A KBCS program called “The Show That Fell to Earth” wanted to play Hawaiian songs one night, so local radio producer Stephen “Braddah” Gomes (born and raised in Hawaii) gathered up his cassettes and headed to the studio.

“People really enjoyed it,” said Braddah. “And the next thing I knew, they gave us an opening on the second Saturday of every month.”

Tweaking the tunes

A monthly show became weekly in 2000 and evolved. After sticking to contemporary music in the beginning, Hawaii Radio Connection’s repertoire now includes:

Personal connection

Though the shows are now produced at home studios, HRC’s DJs regularly appear at local events like the Slack Key Festival or Live Aloha at Seattle Center, sharing memories and stories with listeners. “The feedback is always gratifying,” said Braddah.

You can see one of the DJs this weekend at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Auntie Jay will be MC’ing the Hawaiian Showcase at the Bagley Wright Theater on Sunday, May 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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