I will admit this to you - radio broadcasting (Internet broadcasting, in particular) was not my first choice as a career. I am serious - it wasn't. It chose me. Long before I even considered such a venture, I was operating a successful information technology company during high school, which I started during my sophomore year. (The above and following commentary from Heartland Internet Media Network's founder, chairman and chief executive officer Jake Leonard.)
My Tenure As A Radio Host
It was not until my freshman year of college when I got turned on to radio.
I got my start in radio at Culver-Stockton College's KCSW-LPFM out of Canton, Missouri. Unfortunately, none of my shows were ever live, due to stipulations set by the instructor of the class which involved the station, but I learned a lot under communications professor/station advisor Dr. Steve Wiegenstein and station manager Ben Massey. I got a few chances to do live radio while at KCSW doing sports, but not knowing what I was doing, I froze and didn't say much. It didn't take much guidance from a fellow colleagues Nick Hires and Aaron Yates to lead me in the right direction and things started to kick into gear during a Relay For Life broadcast we did. Unfortunately, that would be a short-lived stint, which ended in December 2005.
Although I stayed in Canton until fall 2008, I would get a radio gig at an off-campus radio station in nearby Kirksville for Truman State University, but as a non-student, I was again limited to pre-recorded broadcasts. It was also a short-lived gig, which lasted from December 2006 until May 2007.
It would not be until the spring of 2010 when I started hosting shows again - this time in a live format on BlogTalkRadio. The show titles were constantly retooled, but that would last until August of the same year.
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Heartland Internet Media Networks would finally come to existence on the first anniversary of WWPM MediaNet in August 2011. Over time, HIMN has expanded to broadcast syndication, website design and radio production and post-production services, as well as additional services such as web traffic (TrafficBlaster) and radio/web advertising.
My Tenure As A Businessman & Owner
Partial Ownership In Radio:
I managed to save up some money during college and through a couple of jobs I held during college, so I wanted to pursue ownership in some radio stations. (We're legally inclined to not to name the media corporation, due to a non-disclosure agreement.) In January 2008, I purchased a partial ownership in a couple of stations: one based in the Quad Cities region (station was located in Burlington, IA) and another in the Paducah, KY area.
I did everything possible to keep the stations afloat, until I discovered that this corporation was stealing money from these stations, which they had been doing since they acquired the stations in 1980 (Burlington) and 1991 (Paducah) and it had been increasing by the year.
As despicable as that was, as I revealed the corruption, I managed to secure enough capital to purchase full ownership of the stations, who had no further desire to continue broadcasting knowing the truth about the corporation that owned them. This partially meddles with my innovation process as I realized that most of those employees wanted the station to go into Internet radio anyway, but couldn't afford to keep the building, to pay for licensing, etc., etc. As sad as it may seem, it was the overall best interest for me to buy the stations outright and shut them down, which I didn't really want to do. But they were right - it was too costly to keep running, so I shut them down in December 2008 (Paducah) and February 2009 (Burlington).
I had a sense that WWPM MediaNet would be a successful operation, but I didn't have a clue early. We had technical issues and I was the sole technician to handle a database of 1500 songs as well as trying to market the station to potential listeners. It certainly wasn't easy: equipment breaks down or gets heavily outdated, on-location broadcasts from events were almost impossible and other issues were presented.
Nearby Internet stations consider you a mediocre station. I make management errors on multiple occasions. I couldn't keep my mouth shut on certain issues. I gained listeners and lost listeners. I gained shows and lost them as well. There were times I wanted to kill off the station. But I didn't - the light at the end of the tunnel got brighter, our schedule was getting filled, advertising revenue was coming in and things are looking up.
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