SIDNEY — People, especially veterans and those currently serving in the U.S. military, have been tuning in for years on their computers to ijoyradio.com, an Internet radio station that broadcasts popular music worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What they may not know is that the station is managed from an apartment in Sidney by a disabled retiree.
John Dixon has been running the online operation for the last seven years. Local residents will be able to see him in action when he broadcasts live from the Sidney VFW post, Saturday, June 10.
From 8 p.m. to midnight, Dixon will play music and broadcast karaoke singers and interviews with local veterans. The event is open to the public and veterans who are interested in being interviewed on the air are especially asked to attend.
Covington Karaoke Productions, of Piqua, will handle the singing portions of the show. Norb Voisard, VFW business manager, said he’s had some trouble lining up veterans for the interviews.
“The VFW state convention is in Columbus that day and lots of our members are going there,” he said. “But they’re taking their laptops into the convention party rooms to listen to the live show.”
Dixon came into Internet radio management by a circuitous route. He had worked in food service and production, sold furniture and owned businesses. But it was his enthusiasm for the CBS television show, “Big Brother,” that connected him with iJoy Radio.
“In a ‘Big Brother’ chat room, I met a gal from Tennessee. She was a DJ for iJoy Radio. She got me involved in listening. They did Skype call-ins, heard my voice and said I should be a DJ,” he said.
The station had been started in the Netherlands in 2009. Dixon signed on and after about seven months, the Dutch owner no longer had time to keep up the enterprise.
“I took over the station as station manager in 2010, and then the ownership — which means I pay the bills,” he laughed. All the staff are volunteers. Dixon schedules four other disc jockeys now, one in Florida and three in the United Kingdom, and programs music for his own times on the air and for pre-recorded shows that run when no disc jockeys, also called presenters, are online.
He has broadcasting software that streams music to a server in Chile that then sends it around the world.
“People listen by logging into the server,” he said. Dixon spends two to three hours programming each two-hour segment.
His shows, titled “Stargaiser Live,” are Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. and Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. He plays a mix of music from the 50s to today, including popular, jazz and country tunes.
Recently, he connected iJoy Radio to two other Internet stations that focus their programs on veterans and the military. The Military Veterans Support Network, based in Seattle, Washington, and Forces Online Radio, based in Great Britain, and iJoy Radio now share each other’s broadcasts. Each has a wider audience as a result.
“I was fortunate hooking up with them, because I enjoy doing it for veterans,” said Dixon, who never saw military service himself. He registered for the draft just as the Vietnam War — and the draft — were ending. He likes chatting with vets and with servicemen who are currently active.
“We have chat rooms on all three sites,” Dixon said. “Chatters come in and make requests.” The presenters also take phone calls, Skype calls and emails.
The stations do not run advertising. The Military Veterans Support Network accepts donations, but for the most part, it’s the presenters themselves who donate. Dixon covers all the expenses of iJoy Radio.
“It’s my hobby,” he said.
The self-taught Saginaw, Michigan, native enjoys singing karaoke. That’s how Voisard met him.
“He came in for a karaoke show. I started talking to him and asked if he’d like to do a live broadcast,” Voisard said.
Dixon may or may not sing, Saturday. His show will celebrate iJoy’s eighth anniversary and Military Veterans’ third anniversary. It won’t be Dixon’s first live show. That honor goes to a series of broadcasts he made on the beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“But Norb said he expects a full house. So this will be my largest live audience,” he said.
“If it’s a success, we may do it again,” Voisard said. People don’t have to be VFW members to attend; however, those who are interested in joining the organization will be able to get information and application forms during the event.
People who can’t attend the live event can tune in on a computer, tablet or smart phone by downloading a player like Winamp, MediaPlayer, RealPlayer or QuickTime, and going to www.ijoyradio.com. Click “Listen live.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.