Like many Soldiers about to leave the military, Jackson Lochead, 28, was unsure what his next step would be. Having a passion for both cooking and radio, he decided being a chef was no longer a viable plan for him so he decided to start a radio station.
In May, armed with just an idea and a notebook, Lochead began the process of starting a military-centric Internet radio station. On July 19, the station “985 the Hero” was live on the air, or rather web.
Lochead who worked in radio as a show host in Sarasota, Florida said he liked the idea of starting a podcast or radio station.
“I thought I should do a podcast. But unless you’re a huge company that has a ton of podcast shows it’s really tough to get people to download your podcast. (Podcasts are) cheaper, it’s just too difficult,” Lochead said. “I really wished I could just have my own radio station and I thought, ‘well maybe I can.’”
Taking the Internet radio station route was easier than trying to start an AM or FM station, he said. It is also a format that is becoming increasingly popular.
With the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam” as inspiration, Lochead began jotting down ideas for promos, schedules, talk sets, music sets and names of shows in his notebook.
“My radio station had to be like something that didn’t exist. Since we are by Fort Bragg, I thought we should do a military radio station,” he said. “Anyone can listen though and we don’t just 100 percent gear toward the military, we talk about other issues too. No one is doing anything like this, I’ve looked.”
He, along with his business partner, started buying equipment, found a streaming company, researched and learned how to hook everything up.
Lochead, who has no plans to profit from the radio station and whose show programmers are volunteers, established his station not just as a station for the military, but as a way to give back to veterans.
Once he earns enough money for the application fee, Lochead said he will file the station as a 501(c)3.
“The main goal is to use the power of radio to raise money for veterans,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do something for veterans and for military personnel and that is what the radio station is for.”
Lochead said each year a different veteran or military charitable organization will be chosen and that year’s funds will be donated to that organization. Once the station is fully established, Lockhead projects that about 90 percent of his profits will be donated, the other 10 percent will be used for operating costs.
“We are doing this because we love it, not because we are trying to profit from it,” he said.
Additionally, Lochead explained the station is a way for non-profit organizations to share public service announcments. “If you’re the 82nd Airborne Association or another organization on Fort Bragg and you have a special event going on, send us an email tell us about it and we will mention it on the live programming,” he said.
Currently the station has a three-hour morning show, starting at 4 a.m., with each hour block having a different name — “The Essential Personnel Hour,” “Zero 5 Wake Up” and “Good Morning Fort Bragg.”
Lochead said it’s a fun show that is also informative and discusses issues that are pertinent to servicemembers.
“We talk about things like why blondes have more fun, but we also talk about the new Army policies that are happening, so listeners will get a lot of awareness. We also talk about the (local) weather and traffic conditions.”
The station also plays “Reveille,” each morning at 6:30 a.m. signaling to Fort Bragg personnel the start of the day, he said.
Recently launched, “Catchin’ Up with Kiersten,” is a show airing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that is geared toward military wives and girlfriends, Lochead said.
“(Kiersten) had her first show and it was a total trainwreck, but it was great, it was hilarious,” he said. “I give (the programmers) creative freedom … she talked about being a mom and having a new baby and how it’s hard to find friends.”
Lochead said he wants to grow the programming, future shows could include a rap/hip hop show and a rock show.
As for music, Lochead said the station plays freeform variety, playing mostly top 40, rock and hip-hop, with throwback music like James Brown and Kenny Loggins mixed in.
“We play a lot of everything, we’re very eclectic and I think that that’s a representation of the United States Army. If I’ve learned anything, the military is a big melting pot, so the station has to be the same thing, it has to represent a lot of people.”
The station can be streamed from their website www.985thehero.com or by downloading the Android app, or at myradiostream.com/985thehero to listen on ios devices.
Information about donating to the station is available on their facebook page www.facebook.com/985thehero/.
Lochead served four years active duty as a culinary arts specialist with the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat team, 82nd Airborne Division. He continues his service in the North Carolina Army National Guard.
“I love the military, it has done a lot for me and I appreciate that. Giving back is important, I’ve always had a really generous mindset, I’ve always been like that.”