DJ Mermaid shares her KTUH story

Last week I wrote about KTUH’s forthcoming frequency change to 90.1 FM. While the change is still some ways away, I feel it’s important to highlight the impact KTUH makes on our community. And what better way to do this than with a first-hand account?

The following is a guest column from DJ and former general manager of KTUH, Paige Okamura, aka DJ Mermaid, that originally appeared as a blog post on

He wahi mahalo kēia iā ‘oukou pakahia pau e nā hoa ho‘olohe o mākou. Literally, “A humble thanks to each and every one of you, our dear listeners.”

Just this week, I was seriously considering putting my show on hiatus and taking time away from the station. The stress of grad school, work and KTUH can get the best of me, and spending three-plus hours starts to seem like more of a burden than a pleasure. Add to that the fact that we can’t actually see our audience and it can make us feel like we’re playing a gig and no one showed up.

However, it’s these times that our loyal KTUH listeners remind me there really are people enjoying the alternative programming we send out all day, every day. Yesterday, while giving away movie tickets on-air, there were so many listeners calling in that the phone lines were ringing off the hook. The overflow ended up being routed to the production room phone. Never in my five years at KTUH have I ever heard that phone ring!

The phone lines kept ringing with listeners calling to ask about songs played, and to tell me how much they look forward my little ol’ show every Thursday afternoon (3 to 6 p.m.). Uā pa ‘i‘o nō ku‘u na‘au. KTUH truly is blessed with the best listeners.

Then it clicked. I don’t actually do this show for myself; I do it for my listeners and for the life of the language.

If I can get in that air room every week to play music that people will never hear on commercial radio, then it will be three hours well spent. If I can use my Hawaiian language background to tell the mo‘olelo of these mele, their composers, and the people and places they were written for, then not only will I have followed through with KTUH’s mission statement, but I will also have put my ‘Olelo Hawai‘i degree to good use!

Without its listeners, KTUH would never have survived all these years. You all are the reason that we strive to become expert curators of music. When you guys love that track we just played and call in to let us know, our passion for music grows. And every once in a while when you don’t like something, you definitely don’t hesitate to let us hear about it either — but that’s a good thing because it keeps us on our toes.

I don’t normally claim to speak for all the DJs, but this time I will. KTUH will always have its high points and its lows, and perhaps as DJs and on-air radio personalities, it can be so easy for us to get caught up in the drama and stress that comes with it. We get caught up because we care so deeply, and because we believe so strongly, in the value that KTUH provides not only to the students and DJs, but to the community of listeners that has always supported us.

Do you have a KTUH story to share?

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