Community Media/KRUU FM/Crew
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Called a 'cultural entrenpeneur' by EcoVillage's Lonnie Gamble and 'a firm member of a why not generation of dreamers' by Des Moines Register features' writer Mike Kilen, station manager James Moore is a radio passionista.
James has been music editor of the Iowa Source for the past seven years and is an accomplished musician, as well as a published poet, co-host of the Film for Thought Series, former tennis teaching pro, video editor, meditation teacher and music instructor.
James was accepted at the University of Minnesota in communications when he decided to pursue a degree in the Science of Creative Intelligence at MERU in Switzerland, spending the next decade working for an international non-profit organization. He has an MBA from MUM in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.
Roland is a community treasure who is practically cannonized by those who have worked with him directly or have been on the receiving end of his visionary wherewithal and community outreach, including countless young people who speak in glowing terms of Wells' work with youth.
Everyone seems to recognize the need to make Iowa, in general, and Fairfield, in particular, more attractive to young people, particularly 20-35 year olds. If this age group cannot find fulfilling work and are not drawn to putting down roots and rasing families here, the place will die a slow death.
Roland Wells is a 27-year-old who has accomplished amazing things. At 20, he started the Beat Box, a Fairfield area youth center. Wells connected with countless young people in the community from all walks of life, providing them with a place of their own to explore digital possibilities, channel creative energies and interact socially. Young people respond to him not just because he is more or less a peer, but because he is fair, open and respectful in his interactions, at the same time not afraid to call people on their stuff if they refuse to abide by clearly laid out guidelines.
Over five years, under Wells' direction, this vibrant non-profit project drew almost half a million dollars in state and federal funding, though Roland spent countless unpaid hours on the project. By the time the Beat Box closed due to a lack of local funding, it was serving 125 youths a day in two purchased buildings.
It was during his tenure as Beat Box director that Wells applied for, and received, a construction permit to build a low power radio station, doing the engineering specs himself. The permit lay fallow for several years after the Beat Box closed but last summer the FCC granted an extension and a pure citizens' initiative was launched. KRUU-LP 100.1 FM The Voice of Fairfield, Iowa' came into being 24/7 right on schedule at high noon on September 30, 2006.
Some 15,000 hours of volunteer time (currently over 40,000 hours as of July 2008)) have poured into the station's creation. Nearly 100 show hosts are producing some 70 shows a week. Roland worked non-stop for three months till 4am with station co-founder James Moore and a few other dedicated souls who have given Fairfield this wonderful gift—its own grassroots low power FM radio station. [Also streaming worldwide on the web attracting over 30,000 visitors a month from over 40 countries.] The station is a carry-forward of the Beat Box utilizing computers, musical gear and even the building at 405 N. 2nd Street.
Featured in the Des Moines Register, highlighted by the governor's state commission as instrumental in helping Fairfield get its 'Great Places' designation, and honored with a 2006 Community Improvement Award by the local Chamber of Commerce, KRUU has been called a pioneer in the open radio revolution by London-based freelance writer Richard Poynder. What that means is the operation is run on open source Free downloadable software. A progressive station that is neither 'liberal" nor 'conservative', KRUU is a true community station that has chosen as its mandate to be neutral, presenting issues as fairly as possible, giving voice to Fairfield. Over 98% of the programming is locally produced.
All this is a tribute to the vision, moxy and drive of Roland Wells. Roland is a direct, imminently likeable, fair, humble, honest, no-nonsense innovator with an incredible work ethic, a great sense of humor, a fearless spirit, and a deft management style. Treating young and old alike with respect, dignity and openness, Wells is a paragon of civic-mindedness, a role model citizen.
Equally adept working with computers, construction, graphic design, sound equipment, filmmaking, editing, and insurance adjusting, Wells is operations manager of Walker Group, where he has been incorporated this open source approach to business for several years.
Perhaps the best way to keep and attract young people to our community is not by forming research committees but by honoring a progressive young community leader whose remarkable accomplishments have largely gone unheralded in the wider community---and simply asking him what he thinks. Roland was nominated and received the 2007 SEVA humanitarian award, a local service award.
- Email: roland dot wells at kruufm dot com