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Ron Jackson
Tampa, Florida
Ron@RonJackson.com
 


Ron Jackson Bio

Ron Jackson

I was born and grew up in a quintessential Midwestern small town, Delaware, Ohio. Located 25 miles north of the state capitol in Columbus, Delaware was a quiet college town (home of Ohio Wesleyan University) that had a population of about 15,000 during my high school years. Today it is the fastest growing county in the state as the Columbus metropolitan area relentlessly expands outward urbanizing the surrounding towns and villages in its path.

It was a great place to grow up. Crime, drugs and the other ills of modern society were almost completely absent. At the time we thought it was the most boring place on the planet, but everyone knew everyone else and there were always friends and parents around to help keep you out of major trouble. Though I have an IQ of 150, I squandered most of those mental resources in favor of chasing girls and playing whatever sport was in season. I was able to maintain A’s and B’s while seldom cracking a book but was basically a case study in wasted academic potential.  

I now (April 2009) have a 22-year-old daughter who is remarkably gifted but who, thank God, has had the good sense to use her gifts far more productively than I did during the same stage in life. She was a straight A student in an extremely challenging International Baccalaureate program at Tampa's Hillsborough High School and was the President of her senior class. Brittany is now an Ivy League senior at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (the nation's first university, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740). She plays musical instruments, is fluent in French, writes poetry and is so motivated to succeed that she will undoubtedly surpass anything I have ever accomplished. I take some pride in this because I figure her motivation may have come from watching me keep my full potential at arm’s length for so long. Surely I did her a favor by providing the kind of role model she should avoid!   

Since I was busy majoring in girls, sports and soul music, I entered my senior year still not having a clue what I wanted to be or where I wanted to go when I graduated. I was playing baseball that last season and the local radio station broadcast many of our games (in a town of 15,000 compelling programming was obviously hard to come by)! When I had a good game, the play-by-play man, Bob Buchanan, would interview me after the game. I got to know him as a result and he asked me where I was going to college. I told him I didn’t know where or for that matter even if! He suggested I look at his alma mater, Eastern Kentucky University, where he knew the baseball coach and would put in a word for me. However most of us Buckeyes believed that people living south of the Ohio River were all “hillbillies” so there was no way I was going to consider that! Very twisted logic when you consider that our little rural town was not so cosmopolitan that anyone would confuse it with say Paris or New York (or even Omaha for that matter). 

Buchanan (obviously knowing a man of the world when he saw one) accepted my reasoning, though the fact that I wasn’t that good a player to begin with probably had more to do with his willingness to drop the idea. However, determined to help me sidestep a career on the back of a garbage truck, he later told me I had a good voice and wondered if I would be interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting. A light bulb immediately went off in my head and I thought, “That sounds right up my alley. Minimal work with a massive paycheck!” Little did I know that small market broadcasters were paid about the same as those guys you see picking up tin cans along roadsides. 

Buchanan referred me to a new broadcasting school in Columbus (in those days very few colleges had degree programs in broadcasting). I enrolled there the next fall and managed to skate through (after all this isn’t brain surgery we’re talking about) and finished in the top 3 in my class. As soon as I got out, Bob’s station in my hometown, WDLR (a tiny 500-watt AM outlet whose signal faded away as soon as you left the parking lot), offered me a job. So I went to work as the station’s News Director, afternoon DJ and  play-by-play man for local high school and college sports. Wearing all of those hats meant they had to pay me some big money - $100 a week! When I arrived, Buchanan took the opportunity to move over to the Sales Department where you could actually make a living!  

Unfortunately I was on the job less than a year before the draft board came calling. The Viet Nam war was going full bore and the military needed more young men ready for jungle warfare. My fighting skills had been limited to outwrestling old girlfriends when I wanted my class ring back, but that was apparently good enough for the draft board! 

I soon found myself in Augusta, Georgia going through basic training at Fort Gordon. After a battery of intelligence testing there, the Army said they were willing to send me to Officers Candidate School. However since a lot of the guys getting shot up in Nam were young lieutenants fresh out of OCS, I declined and said I would prefer to serve out my two years as an enlisted man. Fortunately they didn’t hold it against me and after basic I was assigned to a plum position in the Fort’s press office. We spent our days recording radio shows and writing articles for the post newspaper (which incidentally won awards as the best military paper in the U.S. during those years). We had a very talented group of reporters including a young Syracuse University graduate named Steve Kroft. Today Americans know him as one of the key anchors on the long-running CBS news program 60 Minutes

I was one of the lucky few that were never sent to Southeast Asia and as my service term was coming to a close the Army offered to let soldiers out 90 days early if they went back to school. Spending those 3 months on campus sounded a lot better to me than being on an Army base, so I enrolled at Ohio State and put my military fatigues in permanent storage (though I am proud to say the Viet Cong never made a single successful raid on Georgia during my watch)!  

I majored in journalism at OSU and it was smooth sailing because I had already been working professionally in the field both as a civilian and in the service. What wasn’t so easy was readjusting to those Ohio winters!  After spending two years in the sunny South, I decided that as soon as I got out of school I had to get back across the Mason Dixon line before I froze to death. I even overshot Georgia by several hundred miles and landed in the Sarasota-Bradenton area on Florida’s beautiful west coast. I took a job there as a radio DJ with a company that also owned a new TV station. Again the money was horrible. I had been offered twice as much to take a radio job in Pennsylvania but the climate trumped the money and I saw this as a chance to make the jump from radio to TV.    

My break came when they needed a new weekend weatherman on the ABC-TV affiliate. I knew nothing about weather but managed to fake it and added forecasting to my radio gig. Within a few months the weekday weathercaster left for a bigger market and I stepped into that job. But what I really wanted to do was sports and two years later when the Sports Director moved to a new job in Baltimore I lobbied management to move me from the weather map to the sports desk. They agreed to my request (in lieu of a bigger paycheck) and I began a 15-year career as a TV sportscaster. 

In 1983 I was able to move up the road to a Top 15 market, becoming a sportscaster for the #1 station in the Tampa Bay area, CBS-TV affiliate WTVT (now a Fox station). The next year I also finally ended a long run as a committed bachelor and married my wife, Diana, who has been a terrific partner through thick and thin.   

I spent six great years at Channel 13. We had an almost unlimited budget and traveled the country covering all of the major sporting events. I reported from six Super Bowls and met all of my boyhood idols including Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and just about every other important athlete from that era. I flew on the Tampa Bay Bucs team plane for all of their away games (the team was really bad at that time, but the food on the plane was great)! Things couldn’t have been better, but the joyride came to an end in the late 80’s when the American economy hit the canvas quicker than Sonny Liston did in his 2nd title fight with Ali.  

Junk bond buyouts were the order of the day and the handwriting was on the wall when a meat packer from Wisconsin used junk paper to buy our station for over $400 million (at the time it was the second highest price ever paid for a local TV station). When the economy went south he soon found that his revenues wouldn’t even cover the interest payments! He eventually defaulted on the bonds and the station went to an absentee owner (who later moved it into the hands of the current owners, the Fox Network). 


My TV Debut  in the 70's
The Weatherman who knew
 nothing about weather! 
Fortunately I soon escaped
 to the sports desk!



Ron & Diana Jackson
At a party thrown by the 
Tampa owners of 1985
 Kentucky Derby winner
 Spend A Buck

 

Mixing It Up With Muhammad Ali
I don't think he realized 
who he was messing with!

All of the sudden there was no money in the budget to do the things we had always done. The workplace environment at this once dominating station went sour and it was clearly time to move on. Fortunately, I had paid attention to the trouble brewing and had opened a local record store and music mail order business a year before leaving the TV station. It quickly took off, making it much easier to start a new career and get reacquainted with music which had been a longtime love.

I stepped into the music business at just the right time. Fans were replacing their vinyl records with CD’s and business just exploded. We tripled the size of the store within a year, starting making trips to London & Paris, buying new cars, a swimming pool, the whole nine yards. Things got even better when the internet came along and supercharged the bottom line by slashing advertising costs and increasing our reach around the globe.

Did you notice there are a lot of “buts” in this story? Here comes another one…But then the Internet, which had given my mail order business such a boost, turned around and bit me on the butt! People, especially the college kids who made up a lot of our market, started downloading music and stopped buying in the stores. 

Rock Island Music
My Tampa record store 1988-2000

By the year 2000, thousands of independent music stores had closed their doors around the nation. I joined the crowd that year myself, shutting down a retail operation that had been a cash machine for 12 years. I limped along for a couple more years selling only on the web, but the party was over and it was time for this entrepreneur to start looking for a new line of work.

My plunge into a third career in the domain business is detailed in a magazine article from 2003. By the grace of God I have always had the good fortune to work at something I love to do and domains have been no different. As much as I enjoyed broadcasting and music, there are times I feel that domains are what I was really born to do. I love language, computers and the internet and this industry combines them all!   

The business even gave me the opportunity to keep my journalistic skills sharp by establishing a trade magazine for the industry, Domain Name Journal at DNJournal.com. Better yet, the people I cover today aren’t nearly as obnoxious as some of those athletes were (though I am not going to mention Johnny Bench by name). The site exists because soon after entering the industry I realized it did not have a trade magazine of its own. In radio/TV we had Broadcasting magazine, in music we had Billboard, in domains we had - nothing. So I decided to set about fixing that situation, also anticipating that it would help jump start my own late entry into the field by bringing me into contact with a lot of the key players in the business.  

Thanks to the support of a lot of great people who have been generous with their time and advice, it has worked out far better than I could have hoped when I started the publication on Jan. 1, 2003. DNJournal.com is now the source mainstream media turns to when domain news is breaking. The site has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, the New York Times, MSNBC, the Boston Herald, Arizona Republic, Montreal Gazette and many other publications. The information we have been able to provide in the magazine appears there only because of the remarkable cooperation we have received from the leading companies and knowledgeable individuals in this industry. They recognized what we were trying to do and rallied around the flag to help us pull it off. I truly appreciate each and every one that helped make it work. 

My company, Internet Edge, Inc. is also involved in developing websites on other topics, as well as domain investment, monetization and sales. I Thank God for the opportunity because I can't imagine a more exciting workplace than the web!

 


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