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Coming back from a crime at nonprofit ʻŌlelo Community Media

Noe Tanigawa

When crime happens at a nonprofit, leaders have to step up to repair the damage. ʻŌlelo Community Media has been recovering from such an incident with the help of a new president and CEO.

Roger McKeaugue joined ʻŌlelo Community Media in April 2021 as head of the nonprofit at a delicate time. In the previous month, a former vice president had pleaded guilty to federal charges of embezzling money from the organization, including CARES Act funding. Hanalei Apioalani was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

McKeague tells PBN that ʻŌlelo immediately set about repairing the damage. To help the organization recover, he provided updates to the media, worked with authorities on compliance, and hired new finance and HR directors.

He also brought in a new asset auditor for ʻŌlelo and a state of Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs auditor, for a deeper dive into the organization’s internal controls. Restoring trust and transparency with partners has been job No. 1.

He also set about lifting morale among the staff by increasing security against identity theft and implementing an Employee Assistance Program to help with the impact of Covid restrictions on the team.

Since then, McKeague has worked with the ʻŌlelo budget to find ways to raise staff pay.

Launched in 1984, ʻŌlelo is what’s known as a Public, Education, and Government access provider — or PEG, for short.

Its six cable channels on Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom are regulated by the DCCA and funded by cable operators’ subscriber dues. It currently has a staff of 63, a budget of $7 million and six studio locations.

Some 745 consistently active users in the community put programming on the air via ʻŌlelo, with another nearly 3,000 others contributing less frequently, on topics ranging from culture to politics.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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