25 Years Together

They’re still an odd couple, but after 25 years doing Hawaii’s most popular radio show, KSSK’s Michael W. Perry & Larry Price have grown into Island legends. Mention “great teams” and several well-known duos come to mind. Martin and Lewis. Batman and Robin. Sonny and Cher. Perry and Price. That’s right. Michael W. Perry and Larry Price

Susan Sunderland
Wednesday - August 06, 2008
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Mention “great teams” and several well-known duos come to mind. Martin and Lewis. Batman and Robin. Sonny and Cher. Perry and Price.

That’s right. Michael W. Perry and Larry Price of KSSK radio would rank up there with the great ones, thanks to 25 years of togetherness. Hawaii’s undisputed kings of the air-waves are so well-known that their silver anniversary should probably be declared a holiday.

Hundreds of fans will take one anyway and gather at a rol-licking breakfast party on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Coral Ballroom of Hilton Hawaiian Village. Where else but in Hawaii would folks stop everything they’re doing to declare their aloha for two disc jockeys?

And who would have thought 25 years ago when radio exec Earl McDaniel put this “odd couple” together that it would develop into a dynasty?

“I went looking for the two most handsome, most intelligent and most articulate guys in the world. I couldn’t find them, so I hired Perry and Price,” says McDaniel.

Incidentally, McDaniel is flying in for the 25th year reunion from his home in Gig Harbor, Wash.

With a career timing that outlasts most marriages, Perry and Price say their bond is stronger than ever and that the key to their partnership is chemistry and timing. Like most relationships, that took work. But now it’s second nature and so precise that one can complete the other’s sentences.

One must also know their place in life. It’s Perry on the left and Price on the right.

Whether it’s on the air or in the KSSK boardroom for a MidWeek interview, the guys are exactly in their places. It seems like they’re tied at the hip.

But one realizes after listening to these guys that they’re tied at the lip. And the back-and-forth banter that they carry on six days a week on the air has broad audience appeal.

Times and styles change: an early promotional ad
Times and styles change: an early promotional ad

Perry & Price became KSSK’s morning drive team in 1983, with the daunting task of filing the late legendary Aku’s place on Hawaii’s airwaves. The duo has maintained its position as the top-rated morning drive show since that time and is consistently No. 1 in market share nationwide in the adult contemporary format.

In addition to their weekday program, Perry & Price host the Saturday Morning Show, a live breakfast show broadcast from John Dominis restaurant. Their show plays to a sell-out audience every week with its mix of celebrities, music and kamaaina fun. To allow more fans to enjoy the anniversary show, it’s been moved to HHV.

When the unlikely pair was first teamed up, skeptics declared it a short-lived gimmick. Even their then-station boss McDaniel asserted, “Some people will like Mike. Some people will like Larry. And some will like you both. It triples our chance of success right there.”

Perry, a former naval officer, is an actor, television personality, and executive producer and host of Hawaii’s longest-running local TV show Hawaiian Moving Company. Price- actually Larry Price, Ph.D.-is a national award-winning journalist, martial arts expert, sports commentator, former L.A. Ram, former coach of the University of Hawaii Rainbow football and volleyball teams, and college professor at Chaminade. He has written a MidWeek column for the past 23 years.

We asked the dynamic duo to reflect on their radio career and to offer insights into how to succeed in the highly competitive broadcasting field. Here are their answers.

a photo from 1984
a photo from 1984

What’s different about the first year and 25th year of working together?

Perry: Radio technology has changed. Everything’s on hard drive now. There’s not a record or tape in sight. It’s all a mouse click away.

How did you decide who would be on the right and left?

Price: It was because of my ignorance. I was brought into the radio business from teaching and coaching. I knew nothing about running a control board, so we had to put him (Perry) where all the commercials would be. He stood on the left (with the commercial tapes) and I was on the right with the music tapes. I even had trouble with that. One time I played the 1812 Overture, with cannons, and almost got fired on the spot. The boss tore the door off the hinges (shouting), “What in the world are you doing?”

Perry: Now, thanks to digital technology, it’s Perry on the left, Price on the right, and the mouse in the middle.

What makes a great team in radio?

Perry: What we do is improv. That’s really what this is.

Price: The team is bigger than the two of us. We’re surrounded by great people. And if you throw in the Posse (listeners who chase down news and other information), they’re way smarter than us, and nine times out of 10 they’re way funnier, too.

today in the KSSK studio
today in the KSSK studio

A lot of people come into this business, and they’re brilliant for about a year. Some are brilliant for five to 10 minutes. We’re committed to the long term, and we’re geared to do content that will last even longer than we do.

Perry: The shows from 20 years ago still sound great.

Is radio here to stay? How can it keep relevant in the fast-changing media environment?

Perry: The death of radio has been reported many times. Television was supposed to kill


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