MauiWatch founder keeps tabs on traffic, weather, news
Neldon “AZD” Mamuad, 42, the founder and CEO of MauiWatch, is a rare combination of tech know-how and communication smarts.
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Neldon “AZD” Mamuad, 42, the founder and CEO of MauiWatch, is a rare combination of tech know-how and communication smarts. Since 2013 he’s combined political savvy and a solid grasp of emerging platforms to carve a niche for himself in the local media world.
As a result, his nonprofit digital news service has grown to a site that gets 50,000 to 100,000 unique visits a month.
The Makawao resident also cuts a wide swath in a variety of other fields. He is a community activist and the board president of Hui No Ke Ola Pono, a native Hawaiian health center, and former chairman of the Maui County Liquor Commission.
Some of his other volunteer work reflects his Hawaiian-Filipino ancestry. Before starting MauiWatch, he served a long apprenticeship in radio; and radio would still be his preferred venue, but he said, “I don’t think they could afford me.”
For the last 12 years he’s worked for Presentation Services Audio Visual, a national firm that he describes as “the largest company you never heard of.” Recently he’s been promoted to area director for venues, providing audiovisual services and equipment to 10 hotels on Maui and one on Lanai.
“Working for PSAV I realized I was in a different aspect of show business, bigger budgets, major corporations, luxury brands. My first hotel was the Four Seasons on Lanai; I thought it was cool.”
Mamuad is a 1995 graduate of Ka’ahumanu Hou Christian High School. The homegrown media pro originally hoped to become an electrical engineer but found he “hated math and physics” and pursued other interests primarily in electronics, telcom, radio, the internet and audio visual technology.
Privately he sees himself as a “Vegas kind of a guy,” whose idea of a good time is a trip to the annual consumer electronics show enhanced with plenty of nightlife.
His first job out of high school was at Sears, working in consumer electronics. From there he went to employment in the infancy of cellphones and their competing carriers.
By the late 1990s he’d “caught the radio bug” and his main ambition was to “get on the air.” Mamuad began running the board at a local radio station and eventually became a morning drive time radio personality and frequent master of ceremonies. As for his monicker: “AZD” It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s just a name we made up to use as a handle.”
Mamuad’s forays into digital media started in 2013 as a Facebook page called TagumaWatch, keeping tabs on Keith Taguma, the Maui Police Department’s most prolific writer of parking citations. During Mamuad’s radio days Taguma was often the topic of a running joke; later when the digital age came along TagumaWatch rapidly attracted thousands of followers ever keen to avoid the long (and expensive) arm of the law.
Mamuad ultimately changed the name of the site to MauiWatch and revised the content to feature a mix of local news and opinion with an emphasis on weather and traffic reports.
In the meantime MauiWatch was well launched and grew rapidly. Today it has expanded to a similar format on the island of Hawaii called BigIslandWatch.
There are multiple ways to access the content including websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and apps that keep people informed of what’s happening in both locations. Currently Mamuad is eyeing what working outside the islands might look like.
“It’s gotten very expensive to live on Maui,” he said. “There are more opportunities on the mainland.”
But for the moment, whether it’s his own media company or his staff job as an audiovisual services provider, he sees the challenges of being a leader come in two parts: “being able to manage the people and being able to manage the technology and doing a good job on both sides.”