By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Eric Skye has always had a passion for building and tinkering. Growing up in his dad’s recording studio Skyelabs Mobile Recording, that passion grew into a job. He became a mobile broadcast facilitator, then an audio engineer.
Now, sitting in his own mobile broadcasting center in Ely, Skye commands the airwaves on his own “micro-broadcast,” and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“Building this stuff, it’s my natural tweak,” Sky said.
The stuff he is building is actually a way to stream his radio station, AM1610 The Loop over the channel’s website, www.am1610theloop.com. He refers to the station as a “jukebox on the air,” a music station that plays anything but country (another station already has that market covered). It’s an eclectic mix of songs, not unlike the jukebox he mentions.
“If you don’t like it, wait three minutes,” Skye said, referring to how the next song to play in a playlist is usually something completely different from the last.
Despite the station’s current limited transmission range, Skye estimates it covers “just about all of downtown,” the outgoing radio director has big plans for the station. First off, streaming the music live through the website, a feature he hopes to have installed by the end of the week. Next, finding a way to boost the signal.
Every idea from then on brings a smile to his face, and there is a lot of them.
“Our station is eventually is going to be about local, local, local,” he said. “News, weather, community calendars, community announcements, anything. My wife and I even want to start up a morning talk show, Eric and Ericka in the Morning.”
It’s an effort that is going to require more than the two signal transmitters that The Loop currently uses, but he adds, he can legally have up to 50, it’s just a matter of making the money to get there.
Financially speaking, Skye makes clear that he isn’t in the radio business to become rich and famous. He calls the station a “full-time job” but in reality he pays the bills with another full-time job as a cable television installation expert.
“There’s no money in radio. We just hope to make enough on advertisements and DJ’ing events to keep this thing running,” Sky said.
Though AM1610 is a for-profit station, Skye said the reality is the operation is run similar to a non-profit organization, because every dollar earned is turned right back over to try and improve the station to invest in more transmitters.
Cheap advertising has been part of the plan since the station began in 2008. Instead of $5 ads, they would run “$1 hollers,” a spot that would cost a dollar each time it’s played. As for providing the tunes for local events, The Loop’s variety of music could be heard all over a frozen Cave Lake during the popular Fire and Ice festival during winter.
As a self-professed “rocker,” Skye admits he’s still learning through doing, and that one day, he hopes to bring the music and potential local content of The Loop to an FM frequency. But in the meantime, he is going to continue having fun playing music, “hopefully until I’m an old man.”