Throwback Thursday:
Buck Buchanan on Hawaii Radio

Buck Buchanan at KNUI, KORL & K-108

Subject: KNUI,KORL,K-108
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 2003 10:08:35 -0800

Editor’s Note:  I remember when Buck Buchanan was doing late night talk radio on KORL and K-108 radio stations here in Honolulu. He passed away in 2005. This is an email he sent to me a while back which I published at the old Hawaii Radio & Television Guide Archive site.

Buck Buchanan
Buck Buchanan

My name is Buck Buchanan and I just wanted to check in and let everyone know that I am doing just fine, but bummed out about the cold weather in California. I started in radio in Los Angeles in 1966, working as a newsman for one of the greatest “Top 40” radio stations in the market. It was KBLA. I had the chance of learning my trade from some of the best Rock Jocks in the business. Many of the names might not be know in Hawaii, but I thought I would give them the credit they were due, as they were the impetus for my establishing my “radio style.”

I worked as a newsman for Emperor Hudson, of Hudson & Landry fame. He had the greatest sense of timing and on air humor of any disc jockey I have ever heard. There was Dave Diamond, who was clearly as radio star in Los Angeles in the 60’s and 70’s. Humble Harv was doing nights for us and shook up the market with his one-of-a-kind style. Harvey Miller (Humble Harv) fell onto some bad times when he killed his wife and ended up in prison for a few years. He got out and went back on the air, but never re-established himself as the personality he had been. I then moved to a KGIL, where I was one of the traffic pilots, flying a Cessna 172 in the mornings and afternoons, doing traffic over Los Angeles.

It was then that I finally finished my college education and knew that I had to come back to Hawaii. I did mornings at KNUI for about 18 months, had a ball and decided to take an offer from Tad James, then general manager of KORL. I did the afternoon drive show at KORL for about five years. “People Power” radio was one of the first controversial talk stations in the country. We started our mornings with Tom “Dynamite” Dancer. This guy was had a style all his own. If he didn’t like what you had to say, he would blow you up with a stick of “Dynamite,” thus the name Tom “Dynamite” Dance. He was originally from the south, spend years in the Navy and then got into radio in Hawaii. He was one of my dearest friends. He passed away from cancer a few years ago.

Handsome Howard Hansen was our mid-day guy. He was one of those “female” charmers, who had a huge audience. He shocked Hawaii when he did shows about sex and other “over-the-top” subjects. It was then my turn. My show, along with Dancer’s was the most controversial on the air during that period of time. You might hear a drag queen from Hotel Street one day and Mayor Frank Fasi the next. My newsmen at the time were the best I have ever worked with. John Henry Russell, formerly from the Mutual network sounded like God on the air. There was also Hal Briggs, who was one of the best.

One memory that I can’t forget was the times of Watergate. It was the biggest story of the year. I would have Joe Nellis, Chief Counsel for the US House of Representatives on with me on a weekly basis. I also got to know Pete Rodino, who was one of the key Congressmen from the Select Committee to Impeach President Nixon. I had Congressman Pete Rodino on the air with me from Washington, just as he was going into session to vote to impeach when ABC Network broke in and Richard Nixon resigned. I got Pete Rodino back on the line and he informed me that the committee had voted to impeach. Timing was everything. I feel like I was a part of history.

The times at KORL were some of the best radio I have experienced. The 1970’s were a ball. I disappeared in 1976, moving to Pennsylvania to become a National Program Director of a Northeast corporation that had seven station in various states. I also did the morning show for about three years in the Pittsburgh area. What a shock it was coming from a trade wind day to temperatures of -13′. Try buying a winter coat at the Ala Moana Shopping Center !! It was a wind breaker. It was also the first time I had been in snow.

My father, the character actor, Edgar Buchanan, star of Petticoat Junction passed away in 1979. It was then that I decided to come back home to Honolulu. I purchased K-108 radio. I brought back Granny Goose and “It’s a Beautiful Day in Hawaii” Bill Edwards to do mornings for me. Noel Grey did out mid-days, Bill Thompson (KKUA) did afternoons. I also had Ron King with us. It was the best radio line up that Honolulu had seen since the good old days of KGMB.

I had a problem. I found that my radio partner had embezzled all of our money and left for the mainland in the middle of the night. Since the money was gone and getting payment on radio advertising was usually a 30 – 60 day process, we simply could not hold on. My staff all stayed with me, working the last few weeks for free. I sued the guy that took the money, won the law suit, only to have him declare bankruptcy. We closed the doors of the station and I took my family to Los Angeles.

It was in Los Angeles that I joined Emperor Hudson in the mornings at KRLA. A little blue humor got us both bounced out of there. I then took over the afternoon show at KRTH AM-930, which was the RKO oldies station. I remained there until 1991. The station was sold for some 25 million dollars to a Spanish interest and the station is still doing Hispanic programming.

I am now a Senior Production Manager at Earthlink Network, which is the 2nd largest Internet Service Provider in the world. I do all of they video’s and produce shows, which we take to our 8 call centers around the country, three times a year.

I have four daughters. All grew up in Hawaii. One of my daughters, Kaui lives in Laie with my three granddaughters, Lehiwa, La’akea and Keha. I will be back home to Hawaii when I retire, or the job runs out.

Buck Buchanan
Production Manager
Customer Excellence and Loyalty
EarthLink Network
AIM = buck1

The following was posted to the Hawaii Radio & Television Guide Message Board in 2005 at

I just found out today that a good friend of mine has passed away. Anyone that was in Hawaii in the early 70’s to mid 80’s will probably remember Buck Buchanan. I am proud to say I knew him, and worked with him in Radio in Hawaii, and I will miss him terribly. Here is his obituary:

William Edgar (Buck) Buchanan III died August 7, 2005, at Mad River Hospital, Arcata, CA. He had resided in Blue Lake for the past year and a half since moving from Los Angeles and Hollywood where he had spent his childhood and youth and the latter part of his career. Buck was born April 18, 1946, in Atlanta, Georgia, and Edgar and Mildred Buchanan chose him for adoption as their son.Edgar and Mildred, both dentists, predeceased Buck. Edgar abandoned dentistry to become a character actor in motion pictures in 1940 and achieved considera

ble acclaim for his crusty, lovable roles in more than a hundred films and several television series, the last of which was “Petticoat Junction.” Buck was particularly close to his father and could imitate him perfectly. Also predeceasing him were his aunts, Kate Buchanan, Arcata, CA, Kee Groves, Lebanon, OR, and Lova Young, Roseburg, OR, and Bonnie Fisher, Seattle, WA.

Buck leaves his beloved daughters Sheila Buchanan, Hollywood, Rhonda Buchanan, Sherman Oaks, Amanda Buchanan, Hollywood, and their mother, Dolly Buchanan, Hollywood; an older daughter, Kaui Benson of Laie, HI, and grandchildren Lehiwa, La’akea, and Keha; his aunt, Gayle Karshner, McKinleyville, and his cousins, Bernard Young, Medford, OR, Brooke Constable, New York, NY, Gary Karshner, San Antonio, TX, and Warner Karshner, Gig Harbor, WA.

He also leaves a host of close friends from throughout his life, for he was a man who loved and enjoyed people. In conversations he was an appreciative, sympathetic listener as well as an entertaining raconteur. His charisma attracted young and old who enjoyed his imitations, stories (the truth often embellished), humor, and positive happy nature.

Buck’s major career was in radio. He possessed a rich, pleasing voice, wit, strong interviewing skills, and a love and knowledge of popular music. He received his training at California State University at Northridge where he studied radio, television, film, and journalism. His first radio job was in Altoona, PA. In 1971 he moved to Honolulu to be program director and afternoon talk show host for station KORL (ABC). In 1976, when his father’s health failed, he returned to the mainland to continue in radio.

From 1976 to 1978 he was national program director for several radio stations in the Pittsburgh area. In 1978 and 1979 he was director of station relations and associate producer for Golden Egg Productions in Los Angeles. During this period he was also research director and feature editor of Radio Report Magazine, a national publication.

In 1979 he returned to Hawaii as owner and operator of Station KZHI (Radio Hawaii) with a staff of 54 people. In 1985 he sold the station and returned to the Los Angeles area. Between 1985 and 1992, at KRTH (RKO), his “The Fifties at Five” was popular with commuters, teenagers, and housewives alike. During his radio career he was well known for his talk shows and interviews with prominent persons in Honolulu, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles.

From 1996 to 2003 he was employed by Earthlink Network, an internet service provider, working out of Los Angeles in several senior managerial capacities: Macintosh Technical Support, Quality Assurance, Technical Operations, MultiMedia Services, and Production. In 2003, for economic reasons, Earthlink cut 1500 employees from their professional staff, including Buck. It was a devastating loss.

Buck served on the boards of the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, the Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Citizens, the Pittsburgh Historical Society, and the Tri-State Big Brothers. During his brief time in Humboldt County, he served on the Board of the Eureka Symphony and introduced their concerts. He was also active in The Wesleyan Church of the Redwoods, and he valued the friends he made in both organizations.

Pastor Chuck Clark will conduct a memorial gathering for Buck’s friends in Humboldt County at The Wesleyan Church of the Redwoods, 1645 Fischer Ave., McKinleyville, CA, Saturday, August 27, at 1:00 p.m. Paul’s Chapel in Arcata arranged for cremation; Buck’s ashes will be scattered in Maui by his daughters, following Buck’s wishes.

Published in the Eureka Times-Standard on 8/12/2005


There are more memories posted at the Hawaii Radio & Television Guide message board.


Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.