Akaku radio host provides a connection to Maui’s Spanish-speaking community
If you tune into 88.5 FM on Fridays at noon, you’ll hear the rare cackle and joy of a Spanish-language radio hour, “The Latino Connection,” hosted by Myriam Laraway.
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If you tune into 88.5 FM on Fridays at noon, you’ll hear the rare cackle and joy of a Spanish-language
radio hour, “The Latino Connection,” hosted by Myriam Laraway. It’s an informative gathering of voices that serves as an audio oasis for Spanish-language immigrants across Maui.
“Personally, I want us to be more than just gardeners or housekeepers,” says Laraway, the skilled producer and host grateful to bring these voices together. “We move to Hawaii not only to work and raise our families. We learn the culture, help, share and give back to the community and this country that opened their arms for us.”
Laraway, 38, is a veteran radio host and producer from northern Mexico. She’s lived on-island most of the last two decades. She works at the deli at Mana Foods in Paia and is a member of PUEDO, a burgeoning Latino scholarship effort on Maui. She praises the number of inspirational community projects and leaders across the island the program has allowed her to work with.
In Mexico, Laraway served as a news reporter, advertiser and program host across 10 radio stations. In 2016 she approached Shaggy Jenkins, former program director of KAKU 88.5 at Akaku, the community media center, about the need for Spanish-language programming. She wanted to help the Latino community feel a part of life here, especially if they were living far from their home countries and families.
Her audience includes some of the estimated 2,750 people in Maui County who speak Spanish at home, according to Census Bureau statistics, or a little more than 9% of the population.
“Myly is a visionary,” says community organizer Nicole Huguenin, using Fuentes’ nickname.
Huguenin is a community organizer from Kihei who is also a founding board member of PUEDO. They met last year at the Malama Maui Nui beach cleanup of Kahului Harbor. “She cares deeply about this world and sees how it can be made better for many people, not just a few. She’s always thinking about how to connect more people, share their stories and contribute back to her community, all while having fun doing so.”
Huguenin tells of a recent Thanksgiving with Laraway. They’d been handing out meals to the homeless when Laraway decided they should host a Thanksgiving dinner in the streets and invite as many people as they could. Laraway is known to many for her unique ideas to bring others together.
“I find myself feeling inspired by her actions and thankful to call her a friend,” says Huguenin.
On “The Latino Connection,” Laraway works hard to educate and help Latinos on-island contribute to a better future on Maui and navigate life in America. The program mixes news of the day and segments with special guests.
During a recent radio program with immigration lawyer Kevin Block and Maui Economic Opportunity staff, she deftly facilitated a conversation in English and Spanish that ranged from federal law and policy changes to local experiences.
“Doing radio brings a lot of satisfaction and fun for me,” she says. “I meet a lot of great people, and it gives me the opportunity to do things to help my community. I can’t do a lot of things if I don’t have these amazing people in my life.”