The campaign of Mufi Hannemann, a candidate for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, officially began just two months ago.

But the voice and thoughts of the former Honolulu mayor have been broadcast live for two hours every Saturday since New Year’s Day. “Mufi’s Jukebox Jamboree” broadcasts from noon to 2 p.m. on KKOL “Kool Gold” 107.9 FM.

Hannemann is not paid for his work. In fact, he pays KKOL for the privilege to spin tunes from the Beatles, Elvis, the Rascals and contemporary Hawaiian artists, and to talk story with callers.

(Hannemann declined to tell Civil Beat how much he pays for the show.)

And while one candidate getting that much air time may not seem exactly fair to the others running for the same office, there’s nothing legally wrong.

Until Hannemann officially files with the state Office of Elections to run in the Aug. 11 primary (anytime between Feb. 1 and June 5), he is not in violation of Federal Communications Commission rules on candidates hosting radio shows.

Nor is he likely to run afoul of the Federal Elections Commission, which oversees campaign finance laws and is involved with enforcement matters and advisory opinions regarding such shows.

In the meantime, however, Hannemann’s oldies program brings him into car radios and homes across the state, an advantage not presently enjoyed by his CD2 opponents

‘Same Old Politics’

At least one of his Democratic opponents, Tulsi Gabbard, doesn’t like it.

(Democrats Esther Kiaaina and Rafael del Castillo are also running for CD2, while Gary Hooser is close to deciding whether he’ll jump in, too. A Republican candidate has yet to announce.)

Gabbard, a Honolulu City Council member, told Civil Beat she doesn’t listen to the program.

“But, if you get down to the minutiae, the bottom line is, what are people’s perceptions about it?,” she said. “And in that context, the most important thing is try to do the right thing.”

Gabbard said she would not tell Hannemann “what he should or shouldn’t do.” And she doesn’t plan to make a formal stink about it.

“But, bottom line, it’s not right, and I am sure he knows this,” she said. “And, he knows that people in Hawaii are really tired of the same old politics.”

Hannemann sees things differently.

He told Civil Beat that his love for radio is a part of who he is. He did the show during his six years as mayor, and before that he was featured regularly on KUMU 94.7 FM, which today features an adult-contemporary format.

Hannemann said he would continue the program “unless I get super busy.” Once he files to run, he said he would probably stop DJing, as he did in July 2010 when he resigned as mayor to run (unsuccessfully) for governor.

“I’m not going to stop just because I am running for Congress,” said Hannemann, who has a large collection of records and compact discs. “I love radio and I love music, and it is coming out of my pocket. I get great fulfillment from the show, and the station is very happy. … I would be doing this no matter what.”

‘Afternoon Delight’

Hannemann’s oldies show is heavy on the music and memory lane.

Here’s how the Oct. 1 show began, according to an archive Hannemann keeps on a website separate from his campaign website:

Announcer: “Time now for the Jukebox Jamboree (sound of a 45 being selected in a Jukebox) with Mufi Hannemann, playing your favorite songs from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and beyond …”

Artist: Starland Vocal Band.

Sample lyric: “Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight / Gonna grab some Afternoon Delight / My motto’s always been ‘When it’s right, it’s right. / Why wait until the middle of a cold, dark night?”

Mufi: “Good afternoon, everyone. Kicking things off with ‘Afternoon Delight,’ that one-hit wonder from 1976 that went all the way to number one!”

But, there is some politics involved, too. Hannemann, for example, may take a call from a listener who just happens to tell him he was Honolulu’s best mayor or to thank him for running for office.

When he was mayor, Hannemann would single out a City and County employee for praise. Now, as president of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, he singles out hotel employees or has guests like state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who chairs Senate Tourism.

But political discussion on the show “is rare,” said Hannemann.

How Federal Rules Apply

According to the FCC, Hannemann is allowed to be as political as he wants on radio — until he files.

At that time, should the program continue, KKOL would be required to provide equal time to any primary opponent who asks for it (and general opponent, should Hannemann win the primary and continue the show).

Should Gabbard or another candiate request equal time, they would not have to produce a two-hour oldies show.

Rather, they would be granted (at KKOL’s expense) the same amount of time that Hannemann actually talks on the program minus the music, weather and so forth. It could be broken down into chunks, too — say, three-minutes spots — and can be about any topic.

Hannemann also benefits from other free media exposure.

Civil Beat has reported, for instance, Hannemann’s predilection for tweeting (@MufiHannemann) and the stunning fact that he has over 500,000 followers.

In his capacity as a tourism executive, he pens a weekly column in MidWeek. And he has made regular appearances on Hawaii News Now‘s “Across the Aisle” segment, which features politicians.

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