Maui listeners know KAOI Radio Group's Jack Gist as an energetic on-air personality who delivers more than music, but also Maui community affairs talk shows, and news updates, both on all six KAOI radio stations as well as for the past three years on KHON2's Wake Up 2day morning news. His biggest fans also know he is a musician who plays the harmonica, or blues harp, and back-up vocals in various groups for the past six years and in his own on-again off-again group, Jack Gist & Friends.
Jack Gist on Wake Up 2day
What you probably don't know, though, is how hard this Jack-of-all-trades works behind the scenes. "I'm technically the program and music director, and I DJ the morning shift on KAOI-FM from 6 to 10 a.m. But I'm also the Jack-of-all-trades guy, from the IT to the ‘I do windows” guy, and I’m talking about the windows you look through. I'll do whatever it takes to get the stations through the day," he says enthusiastically.
Born in Kansas, Gist was raised in Los Angeles. He neither planned to work in radio nor make his life in Hawaii, but a series of coincidences brought about that situation some 18 years ago. "I came to Maui to visit a friend who was on air at KAOI-FM at the time. He quit, and I took his shift. The first assignment I had was filing reports from the Aloha Classic Windsurfing Championships at Ho`okipa," he recalls.
An ocean-lover and a self-described "water guy," Gist fit right in. "I felt like I belonged after six months. I called my girlfriend back in LA and I asked her to join me in Maui," he says. They are now married with a son.
Gist with Alice Cooper. Courtesy: Jack Gist
Jack Gist & Friends with the Houseshakers and Mick Fleetwood. Courtesy: Jack Gist
His other big passion - besides his family and the ocean - is music, always has been. He sings and plays guitar and harmonica. When he decided to actively pursue his interest in music again about six years ago, he chose to play the harmonica, since that is a less-common instrument than the other two. "There are just so many good guitarists on this island!" he laughs.
Gist with Pat Simmons of the Doobie Bros. and Willie Nelson. Courtesy: Jack Gist
He was with a group called the Houseshakers for three years. Lenny Castellanos, the bass player, also plays with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, so he had the pleasure of having Mick sit in with them a number of times at his restaurant/ club, Fleetwood’s on Front St. in Lahaina.
He recently formed the band Jack Gist & Friends which features a rotating group of musicians. They’ve played at the Maui County Fair and a few other gigs. “We’re just getting this project off the ground!” Gist smiles.
He’s also played with what he considers one of the best rock bands in the state, Oahu’s Kings of Spade, and annually at the Zeptember celebration, a tribute to Led Zeppelin, now in its sixth year.
Gist with Sammy Hagar at the opening of Sammy’s at the Kahului airport. Courtesy: Jack Gist
Gist with Rolling Stones. Courtesy: Jack Gist
He keeps himself balanced by spending every Sunday at the beach, usually kayaking or paddle boarding. "It's my therapy," he explains.
It's so that when Monday comes, he's ready to return to what he calls the "insanity" of the radio business he loves. He says the 1970's TV sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati best sums up the business, and he makes a daily reference to it. "Every day, at the end of my shift, before I walk out the door, I call out to my coworkers, 'That's a wrap of another episode of WKRP!"
More on Jack Gist at http://kaoifm.com/?p=137.