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Though one may think that Hawaii bursts at its seems with traditional Hawaiian music, ironically, the radio venues at which it is heard are few. As Hawaiʻi’s only alternative radio station, KTUH provides an opportunity for important cultural repositories (mele, or Hawaiian songs) to be heard and appreciated by a constantly-growing population of Native speakers of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. “Leo Kāhuli,” a traditional Hawaiian music program, will be conducted in the Native language for all to enjoy. Though it may be that the majority of KTUH’s listeners, at this point in time, do not speak the language, the alluring mele are irresistably pleasing to the ear. The program will feature the linguistic and musical prowess of the musicians and experts of the past. Therefore, these recordings, and the converstations that result from them, continue to serve as a source of both knowledge and entertainment for the revitalization of the Native presence in Hawai’i.
The name itself, “Leo Kāhuli,” has mulitple meanings and contexts. One translation, “The voices of the landshells,” refers to the sounds heard in the evening, midnight, and early morning hours. With the show’s humble beginnings in the 3-6am timeslot, it is easy to see how such a name is appropriate, as the voices of the landshells are compared to the sweet sounds of the radio. Another translation, “voice of change,” refers to the goal of the program itself, that is, to change the soundscape of what we hear on the radio in Hawaiʻi. This goal not only refers to songs played, but also the language in which the program is conducted. As an “official” language of the state for 35 years, the Hawaiian language has yet to live up to the title. Efforts such as this will offer the possibility to reclaim the once-Native language of this land and restore it to modern contexts.
“Hoolono i ka leo o ke kahuli, leo honehone i ka pili o ke ao”
Listen to the voice of the kāhuli, the sweet voice in the nearness of dawn