By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Kevin James and Lynn Ridley have kept adding eclectic enterprises in downtown Killeen until now they occupy three addresses: 324, 326 and 328 E. Avenue C.
Hoping for neighbors, they're among the most passionate proponents of a rejuvenated downtown.
Lynn began a travel agency on Clear Creek Road in 2002, expecting a hotel district to grow up in the vicinity of the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. That didn't happen immediately, so she moved downtown.
In 2005, James and Ridley started Blayze University, a recording studio and Internet radio station. It plays a wide range of music, including rap and live barbershop quartet shows. It features talk shows including Ridley's Thursday night "Truly Uncommon."James is "DJ Blayze."
Most recently, the two added Neartiques consignment shop with furniture and other large items in one room and a boutique with candles, T-shirts and other personal items in another.
They handle a lot of art by local artists. One of them, "Lexi," plans to start a children's art class in a small room with handprints on the walls. They plan to hold public artists' receptions once a month, but times are not set yet.
But the radio station is the center of the most activity because there's always something going on. At 10 a.m. on a recent weekday, Ridley said, "We've already had 528 viewers this morning. We have viewers from all over the world."
They have interns from Central Texas College. They thanked radio and television department chair Max Rudolph for his support and Babatunde of Under One Roof bookstore for supplying a 1974 van and some other materials.
"We're looking for people in the community who want to do talk or music shows, any kind of human interest shows," James said. "We just have to decide on times and ground rules. We'll build sets for guests."
Ridley said programming is censored until 7 p.m. so it is family-friendly and suitable for workplaces. Expression is less regulated at night. The studio also does recording, often for established artists.
"This place was vacant for a year before we moved in," James said. "If there's anyone in favor of downtown development, it's us. We'd like to see a block full of dining establishments, another full of art galleries, all sorts of things like that, and we go to City Council meetings about it. We're tired of seeing everything go to Harker Heights. We want people to start realizing this area is safe."
Religious programming is a prominent ingredient.
"God is the reason we've been able to do all this," Ridley said. "And it's not just because my dad was a bishop. We never forget we couldn't have done any of this without God's help."
For more information, call (254) 781-0263.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.