Jump to content

Cecil Heftel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cecil Heftel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1977 – July 11, 1986
Preceded bySpark Matsunaga
Succeeded byNeil Abercrombie
Personal details
Cecil Landau Heftel

(1924-09-30)September 30, 1924
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedFebruary 4, 2010(2010-02-04) (aged 85)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseEdris Glasmann Rebecca Glass
EducationArizona State University, Tempe (BS)
University of Utah
New York University
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1943–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

Cecil Landau Heftel (September 30, 1924 – February 4, 2010) was an American politician and businessman from Hawai'i. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1977 to 1986 for the First Congressional District, encompassing most of urban Honolulu.

Early years


Heftel was born in Chicago, Illinois; his maternal grandparents were from Russia and his paternal grandparents from Poland.[1] He attended Roosevelt High School in Albany Park, Chicago,[2] then obtained his bachelor's degree from the Arizona State University in 1951.[3] Heftel then attended the University of Utah and New York University for graduate work.[3] Heftel was a Latter-day Saint.[4]

Heftel settled in Honolulu and established Heftel Broadcasting.[5] He owned KGMB-AM-FM-TV and several other television and radio stations across the country. From 1943 to 1946, Heftel served in the United States Army.[3]

In 1957 Heftel was a pioneer for what was then called Top 30 programming, when he purchased KIMN in Denver.[5] In one of the nation's most competitive radio markets, KIMN became the dominant, #1 rated radio station. Heftel sold the station in 1960, returning to Hawaii, but once again in 1973 re-entered the mainland with the purchase of WHYI-FM, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, identifying the station as Y-100.[5] In 1974, Heftel hired consultant John Rook, who secured the services of Jackson, Mississippi programmer Bill Tanner, who crafted a Top 40 format described by Tanner as being "predictable unpredictability" that propelled the station to the top of the south Florida ratings, where it stayed for several years. The station was later sold by Heftel. Heftel also purchased WJAS in Pittsburgh which he later sold.

Heftel had a knack for getting in and out of station ownership in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. As broadcast revenues are tied to audience interest (ratings) and to advertising cycles, it can be a great business or a poor one. Heftel's mostly AM group of Top-40 stations was sold in the late 1970s. The next group of stations Heftel purchased consisted of FM stations which were coming into their own in the early seventies. These were sold off in the 1980s and included WZPL (move into Indianapolis) and WLLT (Cincinnati).

Heftel partnered with Scott Ginsburg for a time in 1986–1987 as H & G Communications. This group included WLUP-AM-FM Chicago, stations in Miami, and other cities.

The last Heftel Broadcasting accumulation of stations consisted of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Miami. These were taken over by Clear Channel Communications in a 1996 tender offer. This in turn was merged with Mac Tichenor's Tichenor Media System into a new Heftel Broadcasting. That changed its name to Hispanic Broadcasting Corp (now Univision Radio).

Political career


Upon returning to his business in Honolulu, Heftel decided to run for political office.

In 1970, Heftel was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, but lost narrowly to incumbent Republican Hiram Fong. He became a delegate to the 1972 Hawai'i State Democratic Convention. There, he was elected in caucus to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

In 1976, Heftel was elected to Congress from the First District and was reelected four more times. While in office, Heftel was part of the U.S. fact-finding mission to the Philippines, largely responsible for the forced ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.[citation needed]

Heftel resigned on July 19, 1986, to run for governor, but lost the Democratic primary to John Waihee. Heftel blamed the loss on a smear campaign against him. Democrats have long asserted that the smear came from Republicans looking to run against Democrat John Waihee as an easier path to governor. Many in Hawaii political circles, however, believe the smear was orchestrated by a more powerful political machine that was afraid of Heftel's no-nonsense, honest approach.[citation needed]

Post congressional career


In 1992, he was a supporter of the presidential campaign of Ross Perot.[6]

In 1998, he briefly returned to the political realm, authoring a book, End Legalized Bribery, in which he attempted to prove that the current state of campaign finance corrupts politicians, prevents qualified individuals from running for office, and costs citizens billions of dollars in pork barrel spending and corporate welfare. The book also contained arguments in favor of a national Clean Elections law and mandatory free commercial airtime for political candidates.

After 18 years out of the spotlight, the 80-year-old Heftel made a successful return to elective politics by being elected in November 2004 to the state Board of Education for the Oahu-At Large seat.

Death and legacy


Cecil Heftel died on February 4, 2010, from natural causes in San Diego, California. He was 85. (Numerous websites claim he died February 5, but his widow says he died on February 4.[citation needed]) On June 13, 2011, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa introduced legislation to designate the post office at 4354 Pahoa Avenue in Honolulu as the "Cecil L. Heftel Post Office Building".


  1. ^ "United States Census, 1930", FamilySearch, retrieved February 26, 2018
  2. ^ "NOMINATE STAR NORTHWEST SENIORS". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 3, 1943. p. 2 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ a b c "HEFTEL, Cecil Landau | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. Retrieved 2021-09-30.
  4. ^ article listing Latter-day Saint politicians from Hawaii
  5. ^ a b c Jacobson, Adam (2017-05-22). "Heftel Comes Back To Radio, Via A 'Highway' | Radio & Television Business Report". Retrieved 2021-09-30.
  6. ^ Rogers, Worthington (July 20, 1992). "Perot's backers struggling to settle on a direction". Chicago Tribune. p. D1 – via ProQuest.
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Hawaii
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by