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Friday, October 24, 2014         

LEE CATALUNA


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Bank of Hawaii branches tune in to old-school jams

By Lee Cataluna

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You may find yourself standing in line at the bank, documents clutched in your sweaty hand, staring ahead at the construction worker wearing his sunglasses on the back of his neck because maybe he has eyes back there and all of a sudden you notice you're swaying. You have a little step-tap, step-tap going. The guy in front of you is doing it, too. You look across and a teller is lip synching to the Sheila E lyric, "If you have to ask you can't afford it lingerie."

Banking has a new soundtrack.

That's my bank. That's my jam.

At Bank of Hawaii, Stafford Kiguchi, exec VP of corporate communications, says the branches, at their discretion, have been able to play music for about the last seven years.

"It can only be from radio -- not recorded CDs, tapes, etc. -- to conform with ASCAP, BMI requirements," Kiguchi said. A few stations are recommended for managers to choose from, "but it shouldn't have been so loud as to be disruptive for customers," Kiguchi said.

Nobody looks disrupted, though some are having a hard time not busting out the Cabbage Patch when "Meeting in the Ladies Room" comes on.

Banks on the mainland are doing it, too. It's hard not to smile standing in line in Wells Fargo while Calloway sings, "I want money, lots and lots of money ..."

Music might be more common in other customer experiences, like the dentist's office. Longs Hawaii Kai seems to have "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" and Sinead O'Connor on a loop. Maybe sad songs make you want to buy medication. Don Quijote has an eclectic mix of old school, from Elton John to Duran Duran. Maybe Simon LeBon makes you want to buy Fuji apples.

But Bank of Hawaii seems to be turning the dial to old-school jams. There are a number of stations to chose from. KUMU 94.7 offers old-school "music that makes you feel good" while KSSK has a mix of old and current. Big City Diner serenades patrons with KRTR. 93.9 Jamz launched their "old school that doesn't make you feel old" format just last month and has been heard at several BOH branches.

"I've heard it being played at several other business establishments as well -- Alicia's Market, Tesoro Gas Express, Taco Bell and Kuru Kuru Sushi to name a few," said Ryan Sean, program director for 93.9 Jamz.

If you wanted to write a thesis on it, perhaps a theory to explore is that playing old-school R&B brings bank customers back to happier times. Instead of standing there in line stressing over how little is left in their savings, they hear Levert's "Casanova" and think back to big hair, big jackets and fewer worries.

Lee Cataluna can be reached at lcataluna@staradvertiser.com.

 






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