It’s a Wrap: Kahikina Logs Radiothon Record, Raises $63K

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KAPA Hawaiian FM DJ Tommy “Kahikina” Ching overshot the green.

Kahikina, station founder, father, grandfather, jokester, island celebrity, avid golfer, and now world record holder, ended up raising $63,000 for the Hawai‘i Island United Way during his 12-day, 261-hour radiothon.

Kahikina is overcome with emotion as he finishes the final segment of his radiothon. Tom Hasslinger/Big Island Now

Donations sailed past the $50,000 goal Kahikina originally set out and blew way, way past the $35,000 figure where it was sitting late Thursday, which slightly depressed the DJ, only days away from the marathon’s final day on Friday.

But that was all ancient history when Kahikina logged his 261st radio hour around noon, and collections hit $63,000 and were continuing to climb.

“Today, not only has my dream been fulfilled, but we have fulfilled the dreams of many,” Kahikina said during his final radio segment of the marathon session. “Everybody gave.”

Friends, family, news reporters and agency and government officials packed Kahikina’s quaint KAPA studio that doubled as his bedroom to celebrate the achievement. It marked the second time Kahikina has stayed on air to raise funds for HIUW. In 1992, the 69-year-old was at the mic for 144 hours for KAPA when it was on AM radio. He raised $35,000 at the time.


“There’s so much that it blew my mind,” HIUW office coordinator Carol Pacheco said of the amount raised. “This is going to help us get to the level we need to be.”

Pachheco said the funds will allow the organization, which raises money to give to other nonprofits on the Big Island, flexibility to administer more smaller grants for programs that need immediate help. Fundraising has been down since the pandemic, and the infusion couldn’t come at a better time.

She spent time in the KAPA studio with Kahikina during the radiothon to offer moral support along the way. Kahikina spent 18 hours a day on his feet, slept only two hours a night, and the grueling demand took its toll.

“Nobody has stepped up like you,” she told the DJ during one of those moments when things seemed frustrating.

Kahikina took a congratulatory call from Mayor Mitch Roth as the final minutes to the record ticked away on Friday, and Hawai‘i County Deputy Managing Director Bobby Command presented a proclamation to the DJ in his office. Command even had Kahikina sign his personal autograph book, a pamphlet loaded with world-, national- and island-famous folks.


“That’s for people who are important,” Kahikina told him.

“And you’re important,” Command replied.

HIUW’s President and Chief Professional Officer Karen Davis also thanked Kahikina through an official statement, praising him for his tireless effort, that was read out loud.

“Kahikina truly exemplifies HIUC’s mission,” Davis wrote. “A huge mahalo nui loa to Kahikina, KAPA Radio, and to our charitable and gracious donors.” 

What’s next for Kahikina besides rest? He said he has a thing or two in mind.


“I have all kinds of ideas,” Kahikina said before pointing to one of his bosses. “It’s up to this guy to see how wild I can get.”

Then, with the radiothon record and fundraising goal in hand, Kahikina, ever comfortable in front of the mic, switched it on for his final segment to say thank you and aloha. At times, his voice wavered with emotion and fatigue.

“We all came together for one purpose,” he said.

Then the crowd of supports counted down the final seconds, and it was over.

“And I’ll see you after I get off the golf course,” Kahikina said at the end, right before he turned off the mic.

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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