Odie Lofton Sr. has faced plenty of challenges in his life, starting a radio station from scratch is just one more mountain to climb. The Colfax man, legally blind, has battled a host of health issues including kidney failure and cataracts.
Radio — more specifically country music radio — has been one of Lofton’s life long passions. Born in Memphis, Tenn. Lofton’s interest in country music pushed him through a college career in Fort Dodge, but after college he struggled to land a job in the industry.
“I wanted to go work at an actual radio station, but radio jobs are really hard to find,” Lofton said.
Left on the outside looking in, Lofton discovered a whole new world online. Internet radio, which is available from a variety of sources gives anyone with a laptop, a microphone and an internet connection their own virtual soapbox. Thousands of these stations exist, operated by folks like Lofton, voices shining like stars in the inky darkness of the world wide web.
There wasn’t any question what kind of station was going to start when he signed up. Like the old joke says, for Lofton, there’s only two types of music; country and western. Lofton’s station, Mix Country 106 was off the ground and running, but it wasn’t long before the reality started creeping in. After marrying his longtime girlfriend, Raven, and moving to Colfax in order to be closer to his IT job, Lofton found himself running short of time. After his son, Odie Lofton Jr. was born, he flipped the switch and shut the station down.
Even though the lights might have dimmed, the idea didn’t die. Lofton found himself daydreaming about the station during his day job, and after a push from co-worker Ron Kane, he was ready to turn his radio back on and play his comeback song.
Kane, who’s worked alongside Lofton for years, said he knew right away Odie had the right stuff to take over the airwaves.
“He’s a radio personality all on his own, he’s got the voice, and the personality,” Kane said. “If he’s got a plan, he needs to stick with his plan.”
After hearing Lofton talk about the station at work, Kane started pressuring him to think about getting back on the air. Both men are active church goers and Kane said his faith helps him support the station.
“I’m bringing it back in a different way,” Lofton said. “This time the music is just filler, the community is my primary focus.”
Lofton’s new vision is to make Mix Country 106 a public access station, and he’s hoping before long you’ll be able to find him on the radio dial as well as on your computer. It’s a big vision, and for Lofton, the sky’s the limit, even right now he’ll readily admit he’s got a long ways to go before the country road takes him home.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” Lofton promised. “We need to get our board settled, and get our 501(c)3 processed, but we’re looking at a four-week timeframe.”
As Lofton talks, his vision gets bigger and bigger. He’d like to partner up with members of the community and create opportunities for local students to get involved with the station as well. In Lofton’s mind, the station will become the voice of the town.
“I don’t need to be rich or famous, I just want to help the community come together and share a passion for this,” Lofton said.
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org