By Diane Ako
Cuando era nino, Ron Wiley hablo español mejor que ingles. It seems fitting to start this story in Spanish, because at the start of Wiley's life, he spoke Spanish better than he did English.
"I grew up in a barrio (Latino neighborhood) in Tucson, Arizona, and because all my classmates were Mexican, I spoke fluent Spanish. In fact, I was enrolled in correctional classes in English for a while, even though my family members are all native-English speaking Caucasians," backgrounds the man many know best today as a well-known Kauai personality.
It's a skill he's always found handy in his career. His first radio job in 1967 was at KXEW in Tucson, at a Spanish language station. From there, he's dabbled as a VJ for a TV station playing music videos, as well as worked in television on Oahu, but largely, has pursued his first love, radio.
In 1975, Wiley found his way to Hawaii. "I was gallivanting around the country with a girlfriend, and we came here. I loved it. When she said she was ready to leave, I said I wanted to stay," reflects Wiley. "I just knew this was my new home. The sun and heat remind me of Arizona, but the ocean was a new thing! I had never seen the ocean and I loved it!"
Wiley has certainly made a name for himself in the state, particularly on the Garden Isle, where he has been broadcasting in the mornings on KONG-FM for more than a quarter century. He says he considers it his job to serve the people of Kauai by acting as an information conduit. You can also catch his Kauai updates on KHON2's Wake Up 2day morning newscast several times a week.
"I love it. I give the traffic updates, celebrity gossip, find lost pets, announce garage sales - whatever people need. I'm the guy next door who helps you when you need something," he describes. "Senator Daniel Akaka put it best. I interviewed him in 2012 and he jokingly gave me my Hawaiian name, Pipeline - for pipeline of information." Wiley pronounces Pipeline in a faux-Hawaiian fashion, Pee-pay-lee-nay.
He is extremely active in the community in other ways, as well, currently on the board of the Kauai Blood Bank, Kauai United Way, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club of Kauai, and the Kauai Humane Society. "I take the wellness of our community seriously. I want to help people through public service," says Wiley.
In fact, that's part of what he admires about his wife Laura. "I would see her around town at various non-profit events and we'd say hello. One day, I saw her on television talking about pet adoptions, and I called her to congratulate her on a nice job. It was my way of flirting," admits the self-described former cad.
This was in the mid-nineties. The two started chatting casually. Wiley continues, "She came to the station to loan me a U2 CD and I asked her out. We went to a movie, and ended up talking all night. It was the first time in ages I had asked a woman out! We were married a year later - Valentine's Day 1997."
Wiley is so romantic, he celebrates not just their anniversary, but their "week-aversary." When I commented that I'd seen his many Facebook posts declaring his love for his wife, he pointed out that he always writes it as "Laura, I love you"- "because I always put her first."
He did caution her that she'd be entering a marriage of three. "It will always be Ron, Laura, and the radio," he warned. The happy couple share their home with three dogs, and their lives with many, many loyal listeners.
More on Wiley at http://www.kongradio.com/ron.asp.