KTUH Honolulu, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Student Media’s radio station, remains on-air 24/7, by turning challenges into opportunities during the COVID-19 health crisis.
“I am most proud of the ability of the entire KTUH staff to adapt their routine and programming to the COVID-19 pandemic—it’s a testament to the implacable spirit of this radio station,” said Bjarne Bartlett, KTUH general manager and PhD student in molecular biosciences and bioengineering.
KTUH usually broadcasts live from campus out of its Hemenway Hall studio on 90.1FM in Honolulu and 91.1FM on Oʻahu’s North Shore. However, as classes transitioned online for the remainder of the semester, campuses closed to the public and the university encouraged social distancing, the management team instituted new ways to continue broadcasting.
KTUH is operated by more than 70 student volunteers and community members. One way KTUH is staying on the air is by playing archived shows from alumni, some which are more than 30 years old. KTUH also said alumni members have reprised their old time slots with new remote shows produced for the COVID-19 pandemic. Several student DJs, including Zoe Dym, have maintained their current spots through pre-recorded shows. Dym, who is KTUH’s program director and goes by DJ California Roll, is trying to make the best of the situation.
“I loved to start my Thursdays waking up at 5 a.m. and going into the station to do my 6–9 a.m. show, ‘Cool Japan.’ I got to begin my day by sharing three hours of music that I love and chatting over the phone with my beautiful listeners,” Dym said. “Doing a pre-recorded show does not give me the same connection and creative flow that I can have in the air room, but I am trying my best.”
Social media live streams
DJs like Remy Zane, host of Tokyo Rock/Trivia Shock, and KTUH Events Director Marc Ito, who goes by DJ MarcNado, have connected with listeners and taken requests via social media. KTUH said these live streams have the potential to build a new audience and represent the future of its listeners.
“I kind of went in that direction to see how successful and interested people may be into the music that us DJs would play,” Ito said. “Not everyone has an ideal situation for live streaming, myself included, but by pushing new content and an experience for people is definitely something that I’ve hoped to strive for.”
UH Mānoa Student Media programs
KTUH’s sister programs, Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Review and UH Productions have also maintained operations despite COVID-19. Ka Leo and UH Productions contribute to the national award-winning Mānoa Now app and its new section called “Corona Now.” Ka Leo produces daily news content while UH Productions produces video content for the page. Hawaiʻi Review, the student literary journal, provides regular content through its social media channels.
KTUH’s annual radiothon, its largest fundraising campaign, has been postponed due to COVID-19. Visit its UH Foundation page to contribute.
—By Marc Arakaki