Giving all year long
The holiday season also is the giving season ,but for Ron Wiley of KQNG, giving to others and to his community is just a way of life
For a guy who gets paid to talk, Ron Wiley spends a lot of time listening to others. Contributing to Kaua‘i comes naturally to KQNGâ€™s morning man
Spreading holiday cheer through the gift of giving never gets old for Ron Wiley. In fact, it is an action the veteran disc jockey firmly believes should be taken not only during the holiday season, but all year-round.
“When I get the opportunity, if there is any way I can inspire people to find a means to give of themselves in addition to the gifts they buy at the store, I try to do so,” he says one afternoon after his KQNG morning radio show wrapped up. “If I had my way, folks would just do for others rather than give a gift.”
Even if that just means writing a personal letter to someone or making a donation to your favorite charity, every little altruistic action counts, he says.
It’s why Wiley spends so much of his time listening to what people in the community have to say.
“And that’s year-round.
I don’t just do the open phone line during the holiday season,” he says. “That’s my way of giving to Kaua’i, to let them express themselves onair.
“You know how wonderful it is for someone to take the time and call up and say happy anniversary to his wife? It’s not even easy to get through on the phone,” he says. “It’s a great thing to be a witness and be the pipeline, or conduit, to make that possible, that they can crow to the world about how much they love their family.”
And family is what the holiday season is really all about, whether it be close relatives or the extended Island community, says the radio personality who has been in the business since 1967.
“As the year gets closer to the end, if folks haven’t found a charity, nonprofit, service organization or family that could use their love, they should really make that effort to find a way to make that connection with the real spirit – which is family,” Wiley says.
Wiley doesn’t stop with just six days a week on-air promoting good will. You also can find him bouncing around the island all hours of the day and night. Serving as the honorary chairman for the Kaua’i blood drive, assisting fundraising activities for Kaua’i United Way, volunteering for Kaua’i Humane Society and participating in parades such as Lights on Rice Street are just a few of the reasons why not only his voice, but his face is so recognizable.
“It’s not like in Honolulu, where a radio guy could totally disappear and you’d never know him,” says Wiley, who was a DJ for KIKI on Oahu for some 14 years. “Here, people actually feel like they know that person, they recognize that person, and they end up seeing that person out and about at various activities, especially charitable events where I am.”
One place where Wiley can be found in December each year is the Kaua’i Hospice Candlelight Vigil, an event which he holds dear because of the passing of his father when he was a child.
“It’s a great thing,” says Wiley, who has the “privilege” of reading out loud the names of loved ones who have passed on. “The idea is to get people to understand there are others who have lost loved ones.
“Holidays can be tough for people. Some of us find it difficult because we don’t have our loved ones near us, and the holidays are one of those times we do get to be with our loved ones, or we try to be.”
Using his career as a platform to promote nonprofits, such as the Kaua’i Hospice, that help others is yet another way Wiley dedicates himself to the island’s community.
“I grew up in abject poverty, and one of the things my mother taught me was how to be thankful,” he says. “I realize how beautiful and important they are.”
What also makes Wiley so unique in the world of broadcast journalism is his long-term commitment to one community. Starting at KQNG on April Fool’s Day 1989, he has been there ever since, he says.
“That’s a long time at one radio station, for radio people,” he says. Radio roulette, they call it.
“I am different from most radio guys in that I never got into radio to be on the radio,” he says.
Though blessed with “great pipes,” as radio folks describe an exceptional voice, Wiley actually started his career in his native Tucson as a technical engineer at a Spanish-language radio station. But because the studio’s equipment broke down one day more than 40 years ago in conjunction with an absentee DJ, Wiley got his first taste of on-air emotional exchange.
“A lady called up after I played a song with tears I could hear in her voice, thanking me for playing it,” he says about Yo Te Amo (I Love You). “I was hooked.
“It was that emotional hook of reward for serving people and it was something I knew all along that I wanted to do: serve folks, one way or another. And the reward hasn’t stopped for me. It’s been daily.”
The intimacy is even more palpable on an island like Kaua’i, he says. “You can feel it. You can’t get that anywhere else.”
Recognizing people’s voices, sometimes just by the way they breathe, makes it more personable, Wiley says. When individuals are not anonymous it means so much more when they choke up with tears as they thank people for attending a funeral, or when a 4-year-old wishes happy birthday to her father while her mother gives her instructions in the background.
“There’s just no other media that can deal with people so often on an intimate, instant basis,” says Wiley, who also worked as program director for a television station that was a precursor to MTV during the ’80s in Honolulu. “It’s the intimacy and interaction that I thrive on.”
Because the love for what he does runs so deep, Wiley doesn’t consider it work, and he isn’t bothered by his ambitious schedule.
“It’s my life,” says the husband of Laura Wiley, a certified public accountant who also dedicates much of her time to the community, including serving as board president for Kaua’i Humane Society.
Only taking a few weeks off a year to escape to Koke’e with Laura – to whom he has been married since Valentine’s Day 1997, and to whom he consistently says “I love you” onair – Wiley wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Some people have a job so they can live their life, but our jobs are our lives and it’s OK,” he says.
This time of year, Wiley is especially grateful for living and working on Kaua’i.
“Kaua’i is a great place to celebrate the spirit of family, no question,” he says. “The spirit that all of us are connected.”
And “as long as I can stay standing” – Wiley does his entire broadcast on foot – he will continue doing the show.
“There is no reason for me to leave the field of radio as long as I can talk to people on the phone and be their connection to the rest of the people in their family,” he says.