KLEK is inviting the community to tour the space during an open house celebration.
Educate. Entertain. Empower. That’s the motto of KLEK 102.5 FM, Joneboro’s only Black-owned radio station. The nonprofit station has worked to achieve those goals through its programming and community outreach since 2015, and now they’ll be able to continue pursuing that mission in a newly renovated space.
Founder and general manager LaGanzie Kale is looking forward to showing off the building’s upgrades during an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 11.
“We’re just excited,” Kale says. “I think it’s going to be definitely a more positive experience for people who visit our studio.”
The station has been updated incrementally over the years as funding allows, but this is the first time they’ve been able to implement upgrades on this level. The approximately $50,000 renovation project started in September and included adding a donor wall to the conference room, installing new shelving for awards and decorations, purchasing a new broadcast desk and upgrading the roughly 1,200-square-foot building’s lighting and electrical.
KLEK has also upgraded its video streaming software license and purchased new cameras to improve the online streaming experience for the station’s audience.
“It’s just going to enable us to do more because now it’s not just simply about just broadcasting on the radio, it’s truly a multimedia experience,” Kale says.
Originally from Helena-West Helena, Kale always had an interest in radio and has worked at stations in that region like KCLT and KJIW. He later studied radio, television and digital communication at Arkansas State University.
When he noticed Jonesboro lacked a radio station primarily targeting the African American community, Kale realized he could meet that need. The Local Community Radio Act of 2010 made it easier for noncommercial, low-power FM stations to obtain a Federal Communications Commission license, so after Kale applied and received his license, he launched KLEK in January 2015.
“I saw an opportunity to start something in Jonesboro that never had been brought before and so far it has been received very well,” he says.
KLEK’s dedication to community service programming is one big reason for the community’s support, Kale says. In addition to playing mostly R&B and Soul music, KLEK offers local programming focused on a variety of topics like Black history, Spanish lessons, mental health, local elections and financial empowerment. KLEK is also launching a new series focused on the home-buying process to help increase Black homeownership in the region.
Over the years, KLEK has partnered with almost 50 nonprofits. One of the relationships Kale is most proud of is a partnership with the Jonesboro Police Department to help increase diversity within its ranks. KLEK has put a lot of effort into serving the community and that support is being reciprocated.
“It literally was like building a house brick by brick, forming relationships, being visible in the community and as the community saw us out working, covering events, being at events, using our platform to spread awareness of so many different things, it helped us to establish ourselves and our credibility in the community and the community has responded in kind,” he says.
The community has two opportunities to support the nonprofit radio station this weekend. First, KLEK is hosting a popcorn fundraiser Feb. 4-8. When supporters purchase popcorn from Double Good online, a portion of proceeds will be donated to the radio station.
Then on Feb. 5, volunteers can join KLEK as they clean up their adopted section of highway in North Jonesboro. The group will gather at 9 a.m. at New Life Empowerment Ministries — located at 2109 N. Church St. — where hot chocolate and coffee will be provided.
Kale is hopeful the roads will be cleared in time for Saturday’s service project following predicted winter storms this week. Because of the impending inclement weather, the station’s open house has been rescheduled for Feb. 11. The Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and the public open house will follow from 4 to 6 p.m.
“It’s going to be good food, good fellowship and you’ll get a chance to see the studio and you’ll get to talk with us, interact with us, learn more about what we do,” he says.
KLEK has come a long way from when Kale and three volunteers launched operations in their studio with a couple of plastic folding tables. Today, KLEK has four paid staff members and 10 volunteers getting ready to celebrate their newly renovated home at 1411 Franklin St.
With this renovation project finished, new goals include raising more funds to purchase a backup generator, hire additional staff and expand programming. There’s always work to be done, but Kale enjoys it because he considers it his life’s work.
“It truly is a passion, a labor of love,” he says.
You can listen to KLEK on 102.5 FM in the Jonesboro area. You can also stream the station on their website or through their app. More information is available at www.klekfm.org.