Celebrate a Legacy Honoree Webley Edwards
The people of Hawai‘i bid you welcome … Hawai‘i calls! With these words introducing his radio show, Webley Edwards presented Hawai‘i to the world. Hawai‘i Calls began in 1935 under the banyan tree at the Moana Hotel and ran for a remarkable forty years.
Webley Edwards came to Hawai‘i in the late 1920s to play football and sell cars. On a trip to the mainland, he heard what passed for “Hawaiian music” … which was nothing like the real thing. So, returning to the islands, he set out to create a radio show highlighting Hawai‘i’s talented musicians. Over the years, the stars of Hawai‘i performed on the show. Listeners on the mainland learned about Hawaiian legends like Duke Kahanamoku, Lena Machado, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Palani Vaughn and others. They were joined by mainland celebrities visiting the islands … for whom an appearance on Hawai‘i Calls was an expected part of the trip.
Webley personally directed the show for thirty-seven years, providing a consistent direction and maintaining the high quality that made it a success. With an ear for talent, Webley helped launch the careers of many of Hawai‘i’s famous entertainers, including Alfred Apaka.
The value of Hawai‘i Calls in promoting Hawai‘i tourism over the years is incalculable. The music collection for the show features more than 3,000 songs. The world came to know the islands through music … Lovely Hula Hands, Sweet Leilani, Aloha ‘Oe and the many other Hawai‘i standards created a mystique about the islands that no marketing campaign could ever match.