The “Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum” broadcast is a unique partnership between Twin Cities ’ leading community newspaper, Insight News, and “the heart and soul” of Twin Cities, radio station KMOJ 89.9FM. The “Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum” broadcast is a unique partnership between Twin Cities ’ leading community newspaper, Insight News, and “the heart and soul” of Twin Cities, radio station KMOJ 89.9FM. And for many years, Walter “Q-Bear” Banks has engineered the broadcast from Lucille’s Kitchen and now on the road taking conversation of about 50 people to an audience of a hundred thousand.
As a staff member of KMOJ, a golfer, a bowler, a fisherman, a celebrated singer and one of the pillars in the African American community, Banks embodies the tremendous leadership necessary to turn the Black community around from a stage of depression and poverty toward the attitude of leadership and prosperity. In an exclusive interview with the “Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum” hosted at St. Paul’s Martin Luther King Center last month, he explained why he does what he does.
“I don’t do that much. I just do just as I feel,” said Banks. “Growing up in the Twin Cities, being born in Minneapolis and being a native of Minnesota, it’s just a pleasure to see a lot of different changes, to see a lot of growth and just to be a part of it. I have been at KMOJ radio for 26 years of the 28 years of it being a station. Seeing a lot of changes from being a 10-watt station to a 100-watt and then a 1,000-watt station, moving from one facility to another facility and being a part of that change has been a blessing for me. I have had the opportunity to be in contact and in touch with a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life. I enjoy what I do, I love what I do and that’s why I do what I do.”
Asked about being a golfer, he responded: “Yes, I am definitely a devoted golfer. I have been in six different celebrity golf tournaments. I golf three times a week just to get the practice from a lot of different courses and learning from all the guys who get out and golf every week. Learning from them is a great blessing. They have been teaching me about the game and the understanding of how to respect that little ball. When I started, I could only hit 50 yards. Now I can reach 240-260 and straight ahead. Now I have to work on my ground game,” Banks said.
Banks said golf is a metaphor for life —there are a lot of lessons to learn from it. “With golf and bowling, you have to respect the game just as you have to learn to respect life. You can treat that little ball anyway you want to just like you can take life and treat it anyway you want to. But without that respect, it constitutes a problem,” he said.
“I am part of Twin Cities bowler’s team, which represents Minneapolis and St. Paul for the state of Minnesota. I am also part of the TMBA, which is another team for bowlers, who are recognized nationally by the ABC. We took about 40 people to represent Minnesota in a national competition held in Vegas last month. Minnesota took first place. We outdid Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and other teams. To be able to bowl at 255 in a tournament is a definite plus for me and to be in a big banquet to hear your name mentioned among winners was a joy. It’s not just about the men; there are some young ladies who are no joke when it comes to bowling. It’s all about that game and understanding it that makes it work. That ball also requires a lot of respect.”
Asked about the philosophy of bowling, Banks replied: “It’s called finesse. It’s about taking your time and concentrating on knowing your mark, knowing where you want to go and hitting that mark every time.”
Banks is also a celebrated fisherman. “I’ve been in different tournaments and took second place out of 40 boats. I also took 17th out of 175 boats. The key thing to fishing is patience. You never know where the fish are sitting. You have to take time and patience to find them. Just like in life, you have to take time and patience