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November 30th, 2012
It's often hard to pinpoint the effects of genius, but for neighbors who listen to 16-year-old Kelvin Doe - AKA DJ Focus - riffing, rapping and sending out requested tunes from the tiny radio station he built using broken and discarded consumer electronics, they're all joined into a web of music, sports, and local news that wouldn't exist without Kelvin's irrepressible inventor gene. Living in Sierra Leone, a poor African nation burdened by a barely functional electrical grid, lights briefly flickering on only once a week, if hyperkenetic DJ Focus hadn't Rube-Goldberged the neighborhood station onto the air, listeners know they'd be living quieter, more solitary lives. The station's generator, scavenged from an old, rusty, voltage stabilizer, even provides electricity for Kelvin's home and neighbors who drop by to charge their cell phones. Leaving Sierra Leone for the first time, Kelvin flew to the US to participate in MIT's fabled practitioner's program, where he demo-ed his soldered and duct-taped radio hardware to admiring undergrads.