The history of Hawaii is at once violent, beautiful, and heartbreaking. It is a land peopled by one of the most culturally and racially diverse populations on the planet. The greatest commonality among the residents of our Fiftieth State is their love for living in their Island.
The Golden Age of Radio had nearly come to an end by the time Hawaii actually joined the Union, but relationship between Hawaii and the United States goes back much further. The first westerner to explore Hawaii was James Cook just two years after the start of the American Revolution, and the importance of Hawaii as an outpost in the Pacific was immediately obvious.
Hawaii became an important destination for traders, whalers, and missionaries. The islands were united under King Kamehameha in 1805, but the tiny nation would be a pawn in the Imperial ambitions of larger nations for many years. In 1875, the Kingdom of Hawaii and the United States signed a Treaty of Reciprocity, which allowed for the tax-free importation of Hawaiian sugar and the establishment of a Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. American capital became increasingly important to the Islands, and in 1898, Hawaii was annexed as a United States Territory.
After becoming a Territory, American sugar and pineapple plantations began to dominate the economy, leading to the large scale immigration of Asian workers. During the early Territorial Period, Hawaii began to enter the popular imagination, thanks to the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, and Mark Twain. The music of Hawaii was among Thomas Edison's early wax cylinder recordings.
One element of Hawaiian music is the Steel Guitar. The Steel guitar was adopted by Country musicians, and is featured prominently in the music of the Light Crust Doughboys, among others. The Doughboys' recording of “Honolulu Lou” is included in this collection.
In 1934, a syndicated series entitled Hawaiian Adventures, apparently under the sponsorship of a Hawaiian Tourist commission, takes us from the shore of the Big Island of Hawaii to the craters of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Always with gentle strains of Hawaiian music in the background. Also in 1934,in celebration of the network finally reaching Honolulu, Jack Benny treats us to a less serious Hawaiian Travelogue. Jack and the gang would return to the Islands several times over the years.
In Hollywood, Don the Beachcomber, the original Tiki bar and the supposed birthplace of the Mai Tai, opened in 1934. The Beachcomber, along with the otherTiki bars that followed, helped to create a false image of the Hawaiian experience. An older Los Angeles tropically themed watering hole, the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, was the most important hotspot for live entertainment on the West Coast.
The early Tiki craze may have helped to prime audiences for tropical supernatural tales like “The King Shark God” told on The Witch's Tale. This is a story of how greedy white men, entranced by the charms of Island maidens, are drawn to a grisly death.
These early fantasies of the Islands are a small match for true life adventures in Hawaii. Captains of Industry celebrated the story of Claus Spreckles, who arrives in America nearly penniless from Germany, eventually builds a grocery and sugar empire in California, and convinces the King of Hawaii to lease him land for a huge sugar plantation.
Regular steamship service and promotions by Island based promoters helped to establish Hawaii as a tourist destination. In 1941, a record number of tourists arrived, 31,846, but tourism came to a abrupt halt on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Much of the Hawaiian Experience, indeed the American Experience, is defined by Pearl Harbor. NBC's long running Pacific Story, originally intended to explain the War in the Pacific, helps to define America's interest in the Territory. “Melting Pot of the Pacific”, broadcast on Jan 4, 1944, is a history of the Hawaiian Territory from the landing of the American Missionaries through the growth of Whaling, and eventually the entry of the Asians in support of the sugar and pineapple industries, culminating with a happy mixing of the races.
After the guns were silenced, on Mar 31, 1946, Pacific Story makes the case that the Territory of Hawaii is ready to become the 49th state, 13 years before the Hawaii Admission Act.
After the War Hawaii again began to attract tourists, especially with a post War economic boom and increasingly regular airline service to the Islands. The increased access made Hawaii a popular destination for Radio Detectives, as well. In June of 1947, The Man Called X, Ken Thurston, investigates a land swindle on Maui that is designed to separate veterans from their money. On April 23, 1949, Philip Marlow, played by Gerald Mohr, flew to Hawaii for an interesting case about the Cloak of King Kamehameha.
Jets did not arrive in Hawaii until Statehood in 1959, and liners of the Matson and Presidential Lines, reconfigured after wartime service, came into service in 1948. On one of these boats in January of 1952, Harry Lime gets close to an ex-con's wife on the boat to Hawaii who gives him information about her husband's loot and the guy in Honolulu who has it hidden. Of course, Harry won't get close to the treasure until he gets even closer to a pretty Hawaiian girl.
This collection contains:
- Volume 1: Various Hawaiian Themed broadcasts from all diferent series including:
- Volume 2: Royal Hawaiian Hotel & Cocoanut Grove
- Volume 3: Hawaii Calls & Memories of Hawaii
- Volume 4: Complete Broadcast Day Dec 7, 1941 (Bombing of Pearl Harbor)