Clarence “Cliff” Eblen, founding General Manager of Hawaii Public Radio, died with his family around him in Honolulu in the early morning, Saturday, December 11, 2010. He was 86 years old. Eblen was recruited from WHA-TV and Radio in Madison, WI to become the first Program Manager and a founding member of Hawaii Public Television in 1966. In 1980, he became Hawaii Public Radio’s founding manager with a total staff of two.
Eblen, who insisted that HPR be incorporated as a nonprofit community licensee, oversaw the station’s first sign-on the morning of November 13th, 1981, from a temporary and condemned building at UH Manoa’s lower campus and oversaw the capital campaign in 1987 to purchase HPR’s permanent home at 738 Kaheka Street. The HPR network expanded in 1988 to include KKUA on Maui and KIPO 89.3. Eblen led HPR as President and General Manager from 1980 until1992 when he retired. Following retirement, he served as Vice-Chairman of the Board where he was a consultant (FY 1992-1993) and Special Gifts Coordinator (FY 1993-1994).
In addition to his broadcast experience, Eblen was appointed to numerous community boards and commissions, appeared in local theater productions (The Odd Couple, Little Foxes, Gridiron Shows) and was cast as Jasper of the FBI in the first season of the original Hawaii 5-0.
Eblen graduated from Western Hills High School in Cincinnati OH and served in the US Army during World War II in the Philippines and Okinawa. He earned his BA in political science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and joined the WHA-Radio staff as a technician and on-air personality.
Eblen is survived by his wife Carol, four children: Wendy Sherwood of Sidney, Australia, Paul Eblen of Honolulu, Lani Egbert of Santa Cruz, CA, and Janet Eblen of Honolulu, plus six grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Marie Gaudielle of Tucson, AZ and brother Dr. Jack Eblen of New York City.
A memorial is set for 3:30 p.m. visitation, 4:30 p.m. service and reception following at Nuuanu Memorial Park on Saturday, January 8, 2010.