ASHLAND, Ky. (WTVQ) – Reading, knitting, baking bread, binge-watching television – just a few of the hobbies people took up when they found themselves stuck at home after the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Boyd County native Mike Nelson’s pandemic hobby? He started his own online radio station.
“I was kind of stuck here at the house and so I thought to myself, you know, I’ve always wanted to have my own radio station and do things my way and not have to abide by the rules,” Nelson says.
But it wasn’t the desire to do it things his way that really motivated the 20-year radio broadcasting veteran to start his own station – it was his love of ’80s music.
“The ’80s were my years of growing up and listening to the radio,” he says. “The various radio stations I’ve worked at, I’ve tried to pitch this format, which is all ’80s, but I’ve not been successful in getting that done. So I began to study on how I could put together my own radio station and not broadcast it on the airwaves, but actually go online so that I have a bigger audience to reach, not just locally.”
Nelson says his timing could not have been better because the ’80s appear to be making a comeback, noting the popularity of shows like ‘The Goldbergs,” “Stranger Days” and “Cobra Kai.”
“It’s time for an ’80s revision and it’s time for it to make a comeback and I started it at the right time to jump on the bandwagon,” he says.
Nelson launched my80s.live from the basement of his home with the help of a friend with “great IT skills.” The fully automated online radio site caters to ’80s music fans 24/7 and Nelson says the response has been remarkable. He says about 400 listeners a month tune in from around the U.S. and even as far away as England and he is seeing that number grow.
One of the ways Nelson has made sure he and his listeners can stay connected is by using a once common practice in radio – taking song requests. He has set it up so he will be notified immediately on his phone if someone calls in and makes a request on the “My 80’s” toll free request line.
“And I can actually go back in and put that person’s voice back on the air, making that request, just like they did in the old days on radio,” he says.
But Nelson’s not just letting ’80s fans relive the sounds of the decade, he is also letting them relive the sights as well, through the “My 80’s” Facebook page he has set up.
“I really am doing it for what the listeners really want and how they want it done,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun because there’s really no boundaries on what we can do.”