Mufi Hannemann stopped spinning songs by Frankie Avalon, the Platters, Neil Diamond and countless other artists on his “oldies” radio program Saturday.

That’s because, as Civil Beat reported, the Federal Communications Commission requires candidates to give up the airtime once they are officially certified, or else their opponents qualify for equal time.

Problem is, Hannemann, the former Honolulu mayor running as a Democrat for the Hawaii Second Congressional District seat, filed June 4 but still did a last program Saturday, June 9.

Hannemann, who called it “a special aloha show as I hit the campaign trail,” made clear it was his last installment of “Mufi’s JukeBox Jamboree” and shortened the program from two hours to one.

But Hannemann’s primary opponents have the right to ask for equal airtime.

And that’s just what Bob Marx is doing.

Candidates have seven calendar days in which to request the time from the radio station, a spokesman for the FCC told Civil Beat. In this case, that’s KKOL “Kool Gold” 107.9 FM.

Monday was a holiday, and it was difficult to reach folks. Messages were left with the campaigns of Tulsi Gabbard and Esther Kiaaina, and with KKOL’s local sales manager. They did not return calls or emails.

But Jose Casey, campaign manager for Marx, another Democrat in the CD2 primary, said his campaign will be requesting equal airtime.

How Much Airtime?

It’s unclear how much time Marx may seek, or get.

Casey pointed to guidelines with the FCC, the Federal Election Commission and the state Campaign Spending Commission, which Casey said lead the campaign to believe that actual certification for candidacy is “when the initial announcement and money starts getting spent or raised for said office.”

“We will be requesting the equal airtime, and according to state and federal guidelines, this should date back to the first $100 he spent on the campaign,” Casey said Monday via email.

When Civil Beat looked into this question last year not long after Hannemann declared his intentions for Congress, we called both the FEC and the state Elections Office and were told the FCC could best answer our questions.

We called, and we were told that candidacy “officially” begins only when the local elections office certifies the candidate — that is, in Hawaii’s case, when the candidate files.

On Monday, an FCC spokesman said Hannemann had broken no law in having airtime once he became an official candidate. But his opponents have the right to ask KKOL for equal time.

Here it gets a little more complicated.

For one, Hannemann paid for his program, though he would not disclose how much. That suggests that Marx would have to pay for his airtime, too.

For another, Marx would only be allowed the amount of “talk time” that Hannemann had.

In the case of the one-hour show on Saturday, that would mean subtracting all the time used for playing songs, commercials, weather announcements and so forth.

If that talk time then boiled down to, say, 25 minutes, the station could offer Marx 25 one-minute spots or the like.

And don’t expect the playing of “Stop! In the Name of Love” by the Supremes or “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, either, though Marx would be free to talk about whatever he wants on air.

If KKOL doesn’t want to accomodate Marx, the candidate could take his case to the FCC.

Of note: Hannemann kicked off his last show with Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.”

He has.

Follow Civil Beat on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for Civil Beat’s free daily newsletter.

About the Author