Radio Free Entertainment Network aims to give Akron community a voice

By Michael Roberts for The Devil Strip

Photos by Michael Roberts

Radio Free Entertainment Network began in a room on the north side of downtown in December 2018. 

Christavus “Chris” Dominic was helping out at local radio station 96.9 WMVU when he received a text from a coworker that said, “Hey I’m done with the station. The keys are all yours.” 

Chris slept on the floor of the station’s office that night. When he woke up the next morning, he got to work.

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WMVU and Radio Free Entertainment Network are an outlet for community voices. Whether it be through music or words, local artists are provided an opportunity to share their message with the world. The network combines blocks of music with community interest programming to allow a larger audience.

Chris and hard work are the best of friends. After graduating from St. Vincent-St. Mary high school, he earned his bachelors of communications and his masters in arts administration at the University of Akron. 

While attending UA, Chris also worked at the James A. Rhodes Arena, helping with the booking and promotion of concerts by national acts. He discovered a natural aptitude for promotions and event planning . 

He also worked for WZIP radio and began to form an idea of making Akron an entertainment hub, he says.

“Why can’t we establish something here in Akron that can go nationwide or even international,” he says.

 It would be many years before the idea began to blossom, but this is where it started.

Chris spent four years as  a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America. After a successful stint with the BSoA, Chris then returned to his alma mater as a professor of communications, followed by six years in Alabama working for different organizations.

He returned to Northeast Ohio in 2018 to be an instructor at the Ohio Media School. He also began helping out with WMVU at this time. WMVU started in 2014 as WOMB. It was a low-power FM station with a focus on community interests. It went through changes in management over the next few years until Chris took over and it was rebranded as WMVU.

Chris was then hired by the Rubber City Radio Group and 97.5 WONE as on-air talent. He worked for WONE for the better part of a year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Living by the adage “a rolling stone gathers no moss”, Chris rolled on. In May of 2020, he gathered his partners and investors and founded the Radio Free Entertainment Network. WMVU stands for Many Voices United and this became the rallying cry for the new network.

Using WMVU as the roots, RFEN is growing beyond local to achieve Chris’ vision of making Akron an entertainment hub.  RFEN has partnered with the Young Artists Radio Network from Des Moines, Iowa, to allow their content to reach a wider audience. Chris is in the process of striking agreements with many other smaller content providers to help them achieve success as a community.

In addition to streaming radio, RFEN also offers podcast hosting. Some of their current shows include Sage Lewis’ “Homeless Activist” podcast and “The Spark Podcast” which focuses on topics of social justice. RFEN recently announced that they have partnered with Ted “The Golden Voice” Williams for “The Golden Voice Show with Ted Williams”.

 Williams gained internet fame when his exceptional singing voice was discovered by a Columbus reporter in 2011. 

Chris is thrilled to be working with the inspirational Williams. “The relationship just kind of evolved and I think it was meant for him to start with us,” he says 

RFEN has recently completed construction on their new studio, which provides an hands-on environment for students to learn in.

 Chris imparts his experience to interns from UA and the Ohio Media School. It gives the interns an avenue to get real world experience. They are able to produce their own shows with Chris’ guidance.

With many new content partners lining up to join the Radio Free Entertainment Network, Chris seems ready to make his vision a reality. By making Akron the center of a media empire that encompasses radio stations, podcasts, artist management and event production he’ll do just that. 

By looking at a large media network with a fresh perspective that includes education, diversity, and empowerment RFEN is working to realize their motto of many voices heard and united. 

Chris’ hard work and the support of his partners have built a foundation upon which they are hoping remarkable things can happen. “You’ve got to invest in yourself. It’s not going to be handed to you,” he says.

Radio Free Entertainment Network can be found online at radiofreenetwork.com

Michael (he/him) is a lifelong resident of Highland Square, a performance artist, a traveler, a writer and a part-time mad scientist.

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