JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) – On the airwaves since January 1, 2015, KLEK 102.5 F.M. radio, works to educate, entertain and empower.
KLEK is owned and operated by The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council and with its 100 watts of power from its 50-foot tower, reaching thousands in the Jonesboro community.
Founder and General Manager, LaGanzie Kale says the motivation for what they do inside and outside the walls of 1411 Franklin Street comes from a greater purpose.
“There were definitely difficult times. But when I learned of the opportunity, I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I just knew to go for it,” Kale said. “And so, I just went forward, and as the process went along and evolve everything just fell into place. God sent people that believed in what I was trying to do.”
Kale credits many for how far the station has come along, including his parents.
Thanks to their early commitment to his success, he’s where he is now.
Kale says both his mother and father had cancer at the same time in 1990.
His dad had prostate cancer, while his mother had breast cancer.
She survived her battle with cancer, but he died.
Even while raising Kale in a single-parent household, his mom instilled a great number of values and work ethic.
Years later, Kale paid her back in a way by naming the station after her.
“With our station being west of the Mississippi River that is the first K. Her initials are Lovie Edmond Kale. So that’s where the L-E-K come from,” Kale said.
Kale is originally from Helena-West Helena and he found an interest in photography, music and entertainment early. Before learning of the opportunity to start KLEK, Kale was pretty much a full-time DJ for almost 20 years.
Some of Kale’s early DJ days were with The Click Enterprises. He says many of the parties The Click hosted brought out hundreds of people.
“I wanted to be the man, I wanted to be known. Of course, that ended up happening on a different level,” kale said.
Kale began to make a name for himself. He recalls the day he was approached by his mentor, owner of Delta Force 3 KCLT 104.9 F.M, Raymond Sims, about a Learning Productivity News (LPN) opportunity.
Sims pulled him aside and said, “Have you ever thought about owning a station?”
“No, not really,” LaGanzie said. Starting easily with where would the money come from.
“Then I got word of this opportunity to actually start something from the ground up, but you know, it was not lost on me that Jonesboro had never had a black-owned radio station,” Kale said.
With no idea of how he would get the money. He used every dollar he earned to start building and starting the station. Buying equipment little by little as he could, but also pitching his idea to as many people as he could.
The station was originally on Stone Street and as they worked to get on-air, they sought out supporters and contributors.
“It’s difficult to sell an idea. You’re going up to people asking to get your money for something that they can’t see. They can’t hear it typically doesn’t exist, except for an idea or vision,” Kale said.
Kale remembers they were told no a lot.
Kale, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Tabor, and Allie Hooks-Tabor would go to churches, meetings, and different events trying to sell the idea of the station.
While receiving some help, Kale says they were down to needing their last $12,000 that we would put the station on the air and they couldn’t raise it.
However, a select few throughout the city saw something special, something they wanted to do invest in.
“I made what he said was the first individual contribution to the radio station and I’m gone tell you something… I don’t co-sign for anybody. But this co-signing did not come from me it came through me,” Wilburt Gaines said.
Gaines added the idea to have a non-profit radio station in Jonesboro came from a fraternity brother, Raymond Sims.
Gaines told the brother he had the perfect person for the job and suggested Kale.
Gaines knew he couldn’t ask others to show support if he didn’t so he not only donated but he also became a member of the station’s board of directors.
He believes that when the Lord has something for you, He will place people in your path to make it become a reality.
Standing on the fact, that God placed him and others like Paster Greg Ota in Kale’s path to raise that last $12,000.
“That’s where Dr. Gaines and my pastor and chairman of the board the Reverend Dr. Greg OTA came in. They said well, let us approach Centennial Bank to try to get a small business loan to complete this project,” Kale said.
They were successful in getting the loan.
However, as mentioned, they wouldn’t go on air at the station on Stone Street.
KLEK was stationed on Stone Street from November 2013 to June 2014.
They soon had to leave because the landlord wouldn’t allow them to build a tower on the property after initially agreeing to do so.
But, Kale says it all worked out because they are now in the heart of Jonesboro, adding if you take a pin and stick it right in the middle of the city, that’s where the station is now located on Franklin Street.
He believes it couldn’t have been planned any better without “divine intervention.”
“There were definitely naysayers and even after we launched, there were people that didn’t think that it could sustain itself or it’d be off the air in a year. So here we are seven years later,” Kale said.
KLEK is educating, entertaining and empowering the community while connecting some of the most powerful while also giving a voice the voiceless.
Gaines said the Lord is not through with Kale yet. He believes Kale is trying to leave this community better than he found it.
“Diversity is one thing, but inclusion is totally different. This station was one that this community needed. The timing was perfect. Because now this radio station has brought people together,” Gaines said.
The station hired its first full-time employee in August 2021. But, Allie Tabor is no stranger to the work of KLEK. She says she knew the station would come far, but not as fast as they have.
She describes her experience working there as iconic.
“It’s been an epic growth of just greatness for me and I look forward to seeing it grow some more,” Tabor said.
While it hasn’t always been easy, Kale has learned through therapy he must create a happy place for himself.
For those who visit the station, they will not only be able to see the newly renovated studio, but also several paintings, cards, artwork that brings Kale joy.
One of his favorite pieces is a portrait of his parents, great-grandmother, grandmother, aunt and cousin. The group wasn’t all alive at the same time to take a family picture, but he always wanted one portrait of them together.
He says those small pieces throughout the station remind him of happiness.
“All of this happened while battling severe depression. There were times, even sitting in this very studio and I was suicidal, but I kept going and one of the things that kept me going was doing this,” Kale said.
Sending a clear message to all of the little boys and girls who look like him to not give up, because one day the battle will be won.
“Fight for your dreams and your dream will fight for you,” Kale said.
In the next 7 years, Kale plans to educate, entertain and empower, but he hopes to expand outreach to the community, continue to make upgrades to the equipment and hopefully own the building.
You can learn more about the station, how to listen and the latest projects and community programs they are working with here.
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