Roland Wells Receives People to People Humanitarian Award from SEVA

At the 5th Annual Women (& Men) for Women Gala Benefit fundraising Event for the Crisis Center & Women's ShelterRoland Wells flanked by accompllces sponsored by SEVA, held at the Morning Star Studio Saturday night, May 12th, KRUU founder Roland Wells was presented with a People to People Humanitarian Award. The People to People Award was created to acknowledge and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to promote well-being within our community.

Accepting the award, Roland thanked the Crisis Center and SEVA for the work they do and encouraged everyone to become directly involved volunteering time for non-profits. 

Also, receiving awards were Stacey Hurlin, founder of the ArtLife Society and First Fridays ArtWalk and Michael McBurnie, who has been on the forefront of the legslative battleground to confine Confined Animal Feeding Operations.

The evening raised money for the Women's Crisis Center in Ottumwa. The Center's director told the mostly packed house that some $50,000 had been raised over the past five years for the shelter. Fonsiba Koster, Lee Ann Blackmore, Joel Brown, Margaret Claire, Justin Hill, Mary Sue Schwartz, Larraine Yankaus, Molly Atkinson, Susie Gutherat, Tena Nelson, Tom Vorhies, Diana Upton-Hill, Jeff and Katie Carty, Gemma Cohen, Miranda Mallard, Darla Murphy, John Speer, Doug Daller, Tim Britton, Brian McDonald, and the "Leslie Gore" Singers, all provided entertainment.

Text of James Moore's presentation of award to Roland Wells:

Roland Wells is a 27-year-old who has accomplished amazing things. At 20, he started the Beat Box, a Fairfield youth center, providing young people from all walks of life a place of their own to channel creative energies, explore digital possibilities and interact socially. By the time the Beat Box closed five years later, due to a lack of local funding, it was serving 125 area 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. With the flip of a switch on September 30, 2006, ''KRUU-LP 100.1 FM The Voice of Fairfield, Iowa' began broadcasting 24/7 168 hours a week.

15,000 hours of volunteer time have gone into the project so far. Over 100 deejays and show hosts are producing 75 shows a week with over 80 hours of live broadcasting each week, an incredible tribute to the creativity of this amazing town. 99% homegrown, KRUU also streams worldwide, attracts 1200 visitors a day to its website and has regular listeners from over 30 countries. 

Featured in the Des Moines Register, honored with a 2006 Community Improvement Award by the local Chamber of Commerce, and referred to as leading the open radio revolution by London-based freelance writer Richard Poynder, KRUU caught the attention of the governor's commission who considered it instrumental in helping Fairfield gain its 'Great Places' designation. 

“Efforts like KRUU radio showed the commision that the entrepeneurial vitality of the community was real and viable,” said David DuBois of the Fairfield Creative Alliance, calling KRUU-FM “a pefect example of taking an idea that wasn't on anyone's radar six months ago, but only a gleam in someone's eye, and making it a sudden operating reality.”

The station's entire operation is run using open source Free downloadable software. Doc Searls wrote in the May issue of Linux Journal, "I listen to a lot of radio on-line and I don't know of a station that's more committed to free software and open-source values than this little station... I listen to it in Santa Barbara and it's already one of my faves."

Computers, musical gear and even the physical location at 405 N. 2nd Street are all a carry-forward from Roland's efforts with the Beat Box. Neither 'liberal' nor 'conservative', KRUU has chosen as a station to be neutral. A true community station, multi-generational and multi-cultural, KRUU's mission is to give voice to Fairfield. This incredible community resource is a tribute to the vision Roland Wells.

An honest, likeable, fair, no-nonsense innovator with an incredible work ethic, a great sense of humor and a fearless spirit, Roland is a community treasure who is practically cannonized by those who have worked with him or have been on the receiving end of his community outreach, including countless young people.

People talk about the need to make Iowa more attractive to young people. Perhaps one way of accomplishing that is by supporting progressive young community leaders like Roland Wells.