Hawaii Podcasts

Just as the legendary radio show ‘Hawaii Calls’ once reached out to the world, now podcasters are sending the music and talk of Hawaii around the world via the Internet

Carol Chang
Wednesday - April 12, 2006
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Laura Matsuo listens to a podcast on her laptop computer
Laura Matsuo listens to a podcast on her laptop

Podcasting is exciting, it’s cheap and it’s drawing the world closer together like a dizzying backyard bull session on every topic you can imagine. So many words, and all the time in the world to hear them ...

Like online junkies everywhere, Hawaii podcasters are discovering that posting their own audio chats for an invisible iPod audience can pay huge dividends - and some of them are even making money.

Todd Cochrane, a full-time Navy man living on Ford Island, wrote the first definitive book about podcasting last year and has created several podcast services via RawVoice.com with a network of employees across the nation. His audiences on geeknewscentral.com have soared from 300 to as many as 40,000 per pod-cast.

“I’m making money,” he admits, but adds with a laugh: “I’m for-profit working in a nonprofit model.”

Still, his shows have sponsors, and newer colleagues in the exploding field are paying him for his advice. The 41-year-old father of four has big plans after he retires from the military, and he hopes to stay planted in Hawaii to grow his online empire. The basic requirement in the field? “I love to talk.”

From left, Tiki Suan, Jenn Wright, Trey Terada, Mailani Makainai and Vern Brown at the mike
From left, Tiki Suan, Jenn Wright, Trey Terada, Mailani
Makainai and Vern Brown at the mike

David Nickles, an information and computer science instructor at UH-Manoa, finds that pod-casting has freed his class to explore deeper topics, since his 600 students now can absorb the basic stuff at their leisure without wasting lecture time in a confused daze with their hands in the air.

“They’re very receptive, and I get a lot of positive feedback,” says Nickles, who podcasts (or “coursecasts”) his weekly lecture. The students pick it up on iPods, which they buy in the campus bookstore like a textbook - if they aren’t already permanently attached to one. And get this: They get extra credit for attending the lecture live, and “very few” don’t show up, he says.

“Podcasting clears up classroom time to interact with them and not feel that ‘I’ve gotta cover this.‘We’re really able to explore a topic. I can bring in more content and add depth.”

Wait a minute, clueless readers gasp, what is a podcast? It’s a digital recording of a radio broadcast that can be uploaded on the Internet where iPod folks can capture it and listen whenever they please as they cruise around with those things in their ear. You can also stay still and listen to a podcast via your computer, once you’ve installed an application like MP3, iTunes or Winamp. As Cochrane puts it: “I can just sit here and feed my brain.”

As hobbyists with a passion, many Hawaii podcasters are dedicated to spreading the aloha spirit to the world via music, news reports and just plain talk about the Islands. The music angle is extremely popular, earning top ratings for local podcasters like Trey Terada (doctortrey.com) and Vern Brown (808Talk.com).

David Nickles records a class students will listen to on their iPods
David Nickles records a class students will listen to
on their iPods

Terada, who operates a music studio in Kaneohe, has seen doctortrey.com soar to the top of the list at Podcast Alley, via controlled e-mail voting by listeners. He plays and discusses notable local music that’s not getting radio play here, and brings in guest talkers on a wide range of island issues. He’s produced two dozen shows so far - all neatly publicized, summarized and archived - with co-host and producer Jenn “JRoQ” Wright (of Kanalo) and hosts Mailani Makainai (of Keahiwai) and Tiki Suan (of Milo Shade).

“We’re trying to find new ways to reach out to the music industry,” Terada says. “Trying to create new energy.” The high listener rating on Podcast Alley (‘the hot spot for podcasters,‘Terada calls it) and similar websites show that the formula must be working. “The past couple of months we’ve been No. 1 out of 13,000 listed. The response has been tremendous.”

Brown’s 808Talk is right up there with Terada’s show, and he can put out a show a week, no matter where he is. On recent visits to Japan and Kauai, he did shows from his hotel room with his microphone and laptop computer. “Three or four hours after recording, I’m posting show notes on the website,” explains Brown, another active Navy man who deals with special warfare weapons in his day job. “I don’t have a studio like Trey. I’m a computer guy and teach myself. I don’t have the fancy stuff.”

But he can sure talk. Listeners, many of them Mainland fans or ex-pats, rely on “808Rider” for the latest on floods, recipes, luaus, cancelled U-2 gigs, Elvis stories, Guy Cruz songs and much more.

Like Brown, Gail Jennings keeps it simple. The creator of

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