Fusayo Koike, whose Japanese-language show was a fixture on Maui’s radio waves for nearly 50 years, died June 30. She was 93.
“The Yamato Program,” which first aired on KMVI in 1947, featured Koike and her husband, Haruo, providing music, news, death notices, information on club activities and live interviews with visiting entertainers and officers from Japanese training ships that called at Kahului Harbor.
Koike was born Feb. 23, 1910, in Keahua Camp on Maui. In 1942, when she was pregnant with her second child, her husband, a scholar and Japanese-language teacher, was held at an internment camp on Maui and later transferred to a camp in New Mexico.
Koike moved in with her parents and was working at a plantation store when Haruo returned home after three years of internment.
In 1947, she was offered a job as a radio announcer at KMVI. A couple of months later, Haruo joined the show, and the Koikes were on the air six days a week.
When her husband died in 1977, Koike kept the program. She gradually scaled back the number of shows per week before retiring in 1994.
She was honored with a proclamation signed by President Reagan in recognition of having the longest-running ethnic radio show in America.