By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A broadcasting trailblazer is being honored Monday for more than 40 years of service to the community.

KMOJ’s Walter “Q Bear” Banks is more than just an on-air DJ, he’s the heart and soul of the radio station.

Banks thought he was meeting his co-workers and friends for a discussion about Black History.

But it was actually a celebration of his trailblazing career at KMOJ, recognized by a proclamation from Mayor Jacob Frey.

From Sounds of Blackness director Gary Hines to lead singer Jamecia Bennet, community showed up to honor the man who was instrumental to the Minneapolis sound.

“I try and surround myself with a lot of good people who want to do good things and in the process of that it just works itself out,” Banks said.

Banks was one of the originals, starting as a volunteer when KMOJ was a five watt station in the heart of the community.

He says his best interviews are with the people he grew up with, hometown talent who always made time to speak with hometown fans.

“When we talk about hometown talent we talking Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, we talking Jelly Bean Johnson, Popeye we call him James Greer but we all call him Popeye, Ray Seville I’m talking about people that I grew up with,” Banks said.

But it’s his love for the people in his community that continues to shine through.

“Those people who are on the other side of that microphone they are listening for a reason they want the good song and that kind of thing they also want their spirits fed and filled and that’s what our purpose is,” Banks said.

Banks says it’s not all about the music, it’s also about the service he provides that brings a community together.

“He has that knack for connecting at a heart level, it’s just a love situation he conveys that love,” KMOJ General Manager Freddie Bell said .

A community that can now celebrate his day every Feb. 17.

Banks has interviewed greats like Prince, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

He also spent hours on the air during the tornado that ravaged North Minneapolis, providing life saving information as well as leading people to much needed resources.

Reg Chapman

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