From Volunteer To Station Manager

Julian and Dean Rogers

Long a fixture at radio station KKCR, Dean Rogers takes over as station manager with the goal of making it more inclusive and Hawaiian

Providing an outlet for people to share their passion is what Dean Rogers says makes his new job as KKCR station manager the easiest in the world.

Whether it’s perpetuating Hawaiian culture, playing music or striving for world peace, Rogers says he helps pave a clear path for individuals by allowing and encouraging them to share what they feel most strongly about with the community.

“Everybody who lives on this island is a part of this station,” says Rogers, who has been involved with KKCR in some capacity since its inception in 1997.

In fact, it is a goal of Rogers’to encompass more voices within the community, especially those who are not always heard, like his son, 21-year-old Julian Rogers, who has cerebral palsy and Asperger’s autism.

Co-hosting D’s Diner/ Julian Zoo part 2, a show that features an eclectic mix of music, with his father, Julian has actually been onair since his dad first began volunteering at the station more than a decade ago.

“He’s always right along side,” Dean says. “He’s my No. 1 priority in life.”

The most rewarding thing about having Julian on the air, though, is when people recognize his voice while out and about around the island. It makes him “the happiest person on the planet,” Dean says.

“I get chickenskin. That is his recognition that he is an important person who has a part in the community that he never saw. The radio has provided him a place where he feels a part of that community. It’s really, really touching to see his pride and self-worth skyrocket.”

Other voices Rogers is in the midst of capturing are those associated with Hawaiian culture, such as Ka Leo Ni’ihau and Himeni ‘O Hawaii.

Station music director Ken Jannelli and Dean Rogers

“By virtue of living in Hawaii, it is something we need to remind ourselves, to live Hawaiian at heart,” Rogers says. “I want this station to reflect that.”

And since all one essentially needs these days in order to do a radio spot are a laptop computer and a high-speed connection, it has become easier for a variety of people and organizations to get their voices heard. In fact, Ke Kula Ni’ihau ‘O Kekaha, Kaua’i Community College Hawaiian Studies Department in Lihu’e and Storybook Theater in Hanapepe are already on board.

“There’s a perception of this station as being something ‘North Shore.’But the station’s broadcast is heard from Ha’ena to Mana,” he says. “It’s about being inclusive, not exclusive.”

When Rogers first became an inclusive part of the station, he dedicated his time each week on a voluntary basis co-hosting the “radio theatre” program, Let’s Go Surfing. In 1999 he was hired at the station, serving as its program director until 2000. At the time, Rogers also began working as KKCR’s engineer because ever since he was a kid, he “used to take things apart and put them back together,” he says.

It is Rogers’ love of the entertainment industry, media and technology, combined with years of dedicated service to the station – both paid and unpaid – that prompted his appointment to the new position.

“He’s always been doing something major to keep us going. It’s nice to see him finally running the show,” says KKCR’s music director and acting underwriter director Ken Jannelli. “It’s a comfortable fit not only for myself, but also for most of our volunteers who have seen Dean’s passion and volunteering and working hard for the station since the beginning. I also think Dean is – by nature of his life and how he gives to his son – a perfect fit for a station manager because it’s in his nature to be giving. I look forward to seeing how we can grow.”

In high gear for KKCR’s semi-annual Pledge Drive Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, Rogers is hoping to reach a funding goal of $65,000.

He also would like to accomplish other goals at the station, such as stepping up its community outreach with teens, schools and community and neighborhood organizations, as well as launching more festivals and events.

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