If you’ve ever wondered how I started in this hobby, or maybe you have heard rumors on social media, I thought I would take a moment to explain it.
1970’s – yes, that far back…
I would have to go way back to my interest in radio. In the mid-70’s in central Texas, I would listen to WLAC in Nashville. I rarely missed one particular DJ on that station. His presentation and personality on-air was smooth and engaging. I was hooked to the radio and wanted to be in that role. We didn’t have digital anything; the internet didn’t exist yet. But, I would tune-in and spend many evenings listening.
At some point, I decided to purchase an FM “broadcast” kit. This tiny transmitter would allow me to hook up a small mixer, one turntable and microphone and broadcast to an audience….within 250 feet. Knowing little about radio frequency waves, antenna lengths and, especially, FCC rules, I started modifying this transmitter. I was on the roof of the house with copper wire. I added more voltage (battery) to the transmitter itself. My signal was clearer outside but for what distance? A friend of mine and I took a drive with a radio tuned in to my frequency on FM. In some locations, music was replaced by static in one-mile. In other locations, we were 3-miles from the copper wire on the roof of the house. I called myself “89 FM on 89.0 FM” I knew nothing about channels or frequency separation but it was the only one on the lower side of FM. After announcing my home phone number on-air, I would get a request or two and one caller asked “what frequency are you on again?” “89.0 FM” “Are you sure?” then hung up. Neighborhood friends would come over and do a short show on my station until the added voltage ended up frying the main capacitor on the small transmitter and shutting me down. I opted to not replace the kit.
1980’s – Computers and DJ-ing in apartment clubhouse parties
By the 1980’s, I had expanded my music collection to over 3005 albums, 12″ singles, all vinyl records. I also had two turntables, a better mixer, large speakers and amplifier. The setup was mobile and, thanks to the help of 3-brothers (from another mother and father), I was DJ-ing at apartment clubhouses. Sometimes there would be 20-50 party-goers and other times, there were 200+. There was no pay for this but I enjoyed unlimited beer which was fine with me – they were family.
I was heavily into aviation and computers as well. I took a private pilot’s course in 1982. Flying has its own freedom you must experience at some point. I learned a lot about modems and ran a bulletin board system (BBS) for years. It was very primitive back then – all text. But my knowledge with computers continued to grow. We had word processing, publishing software, games (of course) and graphics.
2000’s – Online DJ-ing and radio
My first experience with online radio was in the early 2000’s on my own part-time station – Chicodawg Radio, named after one of my chihuahuas back then. By this time, I had learned about internet protocols, servers and networks. I was building my “IT” knowledge. When I started Chicodawg, I ran my own Shoutcast server and played indie music, unsigned artists. I communicated with many of the artists I played. Some would send my their tracks asking if I would play their music. In between the music, I would do the news or other announcements. I made my own promos and ads and created my own websites. I was heavily into this technology long before I heard about other online radio stations.
I had moved Chicodawg Radio to a hosted solution – running a server uses a lot of resources and a dedicated computer. This worked well for awhile.
At one point, I visited a local winery and spoke with the owner, the wine maker, after doing a wine tasting. I introduced him to my online station and asked if he would be a guest. He agreed. We used Skype back then and did a segment about wine. It was very interesting and entertaining. At some point, it was mentioned that we should do this regularly, maybe weekly. In 2009, the weekly All About Wine show was established. The show grew each year and we have welcomed guests from all over the world – wine makers, winery and vineyard owners, educators, bloggers and other industry representatives. It never mattered if they were a small winery or one of the world’s largest producers. The show is still thriving.
Shortly after the wine show began, I sought out another venue where I could have a music “DJ” show. I searched and found other online stations looking for DJ’s.
After years of working (volunteering) for other online stations, promoting their stations, their events, other DJ shows, I decided to start my own. I was never “let go” or terminated by the other stations. It was just time for me to do things my way.
Flightline Radio – est. February, 2023
I was planning to have my last show, on the station I was volunteering for, at its usual time – Saturday morning at 7am. I informed the company owner I was resigning, but would do my final Saturday show. I was removed from the schedule – no questions asked. On Wednesday, the week of my regular show on the other station, I purchased the domain name, flightlineradio.com, purchased one of the most common online radio station templates, built the website, found a host provider for the music and, by Saturday morning, was streaming music 24/7. I created the playlists, clockwheels and started building the weekly schedule thanks to the new platform’s online documentation. A short time later, wanting to protect the “brand”, I filed for an LLC. This is an expensive hobby!
Some people claim I got my start or training in online radio because of them. That is not true at all. I also read that most of the elements on Flightline Radio was duplicated from them. Again, not true. There are thousands of online radio stations in the world. None of those stations are 100% “unique” or exclusive. To say I “took” anything from one particular station is really reaching.
In closing, I wanted to explain a few things like how I got to this point – the truth. You can accept it or not. I’m too old for the drama. Thank you for reading…