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These Oahu Radio Stations Get a (Speedy) Makeover

The time frame to complete construction and move operations was less than 90 days

Pacific Media Group is a privately held, Hawaii-based media company with offices in Honolulu, Kahului, Lihue, Hilo and Kona. Across the islands, PMG owns and operates 20 radio stations, four of which recently found a new home.

At the end of 2021, PMG moved its Oahu operations from a leased space to a new, wholly-owned office and studio space in downtown Honolulu. During the switch, PMG set about upgrading equipment and moving its antenna to improve the reach of its programming.

The Oahu operations in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital, consist of four FM stations: Pop/Top 40 KDDB 102.7 Da Bomb, Rhythmic Oldies 94.7 KUMU, Hawaii’s Local Hits KQMQ 93.1 FM – HI93, and Soft A/C KPOI 105.9 The Wave. All four stations, as well as two PMG-owned production studios, were part of the moving project.

To learn more, Radio World exchanged emails with Gregg Garcia, head engineer for PMG. He was the project manager for the move.

Gregg Garcia, head engineer for PMG

RW: What was the scope of this project?

Gregg Garcia: Pacific Media Group’s lease at 1000 Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu came up for renewal at the end of 2021. Prior to the lease expiration, PMG CEO/Owner Chuck Bergson purchased the 29th floor of the Alakea Corporate Tower only a block and a half from the Bishop Street facility. The Bishop Street facility housed six studios (four on-air/two production) complete with Axia Element/Fusion surfaces in Omnirax furniture. While the Bishop Street facilities were a bit over 7,500 sq. ft. the new Alakea office space is just under 5000 sq. ft.

RW: Describe the physical airchain path.

Garcia: We moved our various Orban processors out of the studio environment to our various Palehua Ridge transmitter sites. Nearly simultaneously, we were preparing to move the KUMU 94.7 FM transmitter site from a tower on top of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki to the same Palehua Ridge site as sister station KQMQ 93.1 FM.

RW: What was the project budget and timetable?

Garcia: The time frame to complete construction and make the move was less than 90 days. While planning began earlier in the year, the closing of the purchase was not complete until late September. The plan was to begin construction in October after the current tenant vacated the space, then spend December moving in.

The project budget was around $250,000 but was exceeded due to the tight time frame allotted; supply chain issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; and being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean didn’t help much either.

Click on the photo to toggle though a gallery highlighting PMG’s new studio spaces.

RW: Who else was on the team?

Garcia: I assembled a team from California that included Mike DaSilva, Keith Bussman, Jesse Castillo and Richard Castillo.

RW: Did you hire a master contractor? Who did the install and wiring or helped set up the new suite?

Garcia: Swinerton was chosen as the construction contractor to build out the offices and “double drywall” the studios for sound mitigation. The team mentioned earlier, along with the general manager [Joshua Mednick], performed all equipment installation, cabling, studio setup, TOC installation and STL path work.

Click on the photo to toggle though pictures from the construction process.

RW: What were the critical equipment and facility decisions that had to be made?

Garcia: Since the timeframe was so short, we decided to forklift the existing facility into the new facility. Since the project came together quickly, we were unable to get internet, phone and other telco service moved in time. So, we purchased a Ubiquity airMAX GigaBeam Plus 60 GHz Radio and also installed a 5 GHz unlicensed link between the Bishop and Alakea buildings to transmit the Bishop telco services to Alakea while GTT through Hawaiian Telcom and Lucent worked quickly to provide new services at Alakea.

RW: Can you provide a list of the gear selected? 

Garcia: We didn’t purchase much new gear other than a Comrex MultiRack and five Comrex BRIC links which provided flexibility while we moved our 950 MHz STL transmitters and antennas.

RW: Anything else that your radio industry colleagues would want to know about the project?

Garcia: YES!! This was executed on an extremely tight timeframe. My team performed miracles making this happen. Much credit also goes to PMG’s senior leadership and the entire Oahu on-air staff. They were extremely patient while we worked out all of the kinks in the move.

RW: Is there a design aesthetic for the new PMG-owned facility? How does it meet your needs to make audio, host clients and serve employees?

Garcia: Each of the station’s logos has a primary color. KDDB – 102.7 Da Bomb has a red Logo, 94.7 KUMU FM has a purple Logo, KQMQ – HI93 93.1 FM has a yellow logo, and KPOI 105.9 FM – The Wave has a blue logo. (see below).

Each office and all of the common areas have one wall painted with one of the stations’ logo colors. Employees with offices were also given the option to have one wall in the red, purple, yellow or blue from the station logos. The remainder of the walls were painted a neutral grey, adorned with plaques and mementos from artists featured on our stations.

Click on the photo to toggle through the Oahu stations’ logos. 

RW: Were there any unique challenges that were presented by the station format, its market position, its location? 

Garcia: As I mentioned earlier…”It was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the middle of a global supply chain disruption and our studios are on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!” I think there’s a reel of 7/8-inch Heliax still wandering the islands looking for a home…