When you think of talk radio, you may think of Rush Limbaugh.
One day, you may think of Jake Rains.
Three years ago in the basement of his Sioux City home, Rains decided to initiate his own talk radio program on the Internet.
"I'm the kind of guy who jumps head-first into something," he said. "I've always been a big fan of radio, especially talk radio and I just came to the conclusion that one day, I'd like to be that guy on the radio."
Instead of pounding the pavement in search of a job, Rains decided to set up his own shop.
"It took about a year of working on it, on and off," he estimated. "I researched what it would take before I implemented anything."
Rains' initial goal was to just broadcast something that could be found on a smart phone or a computer.
"I started with the idea of podcasting," he said. "But then I decided I preferred the live format. It was more spontaneous."
Rains came with some knowledge about what one needs to broadcast over the airwaves.
"I've played drums in a band for about 15 years so I knew about mixers and microphones and amplifiers," he said.
To make his idea become a reality, Rains had to get his hands on software that would enable him to "stream" what he was creating live to the Internet.
"I went with Icecast," he said, referring to the streaming media project released as free software and maintained by the Xiph.org Foundation. It provides an open source, audio streaming server that anyone could use for a reasonable cost -- $15 to $20 a month, depending on what you're doing."
With equipment in hand and a graphic arts degree from Western Iowa Tech Community College to help design the website, Rains had to determine the reason or purpose for doing the radio broadcast.
"Honestly, I had kind of a loose map of what I hoped to accomplish," he said. "I didn't want a lot of 'scripted' stuff. I prefer 'real' conversations among people. I think most listeners can spot 'fake' real fast."
Rains began examining subjects that interested him: music, films, interesting news items.
"I'd make note to myself about those things or anything else that seemed like it would generate conversation," he said. "I figured if I was interested in it, others might be."
Of equal importance to the information Rains would be providing listeners, was the name, South Lemon Radio Network.
"It's based on the street in Morningside, where my friends and I would hang out at a house," he said with a laugh. "I found the domain name available and bought it. I thought it was very Web 2.0 sounding."
As with most undertakings, Rains learned quickly what worked and what didn't.
"I had seven to eight webcams so people could see what we were doing," he said. "I discovered quickly I was operating the sound, the cameras and switching between it all and it was just too much. Plus, I had three halogen lights on us and we were dying of heat and wearing sunglasses."
Initially, Rains and his friends would just chatter until they ran out of steam.
"We'd have three and a half hours, and I'd go back and listen and we'd really only have two hours of anything with substance," he said.
Today's South Lemon Radio Network is located in one room of Rains' Sioux City domicile. At any given time, three guests and Rains can be on the air. Gone are the halogen lights.
"We've become much more structured," he said. "We are live from 7 to 9 p.m. with two 15-minute breaks on Sundays," he said. "Then, people can always download it."
The South Lemon Radio Network is a hobby for Rains, whose day job is a communications consultant for Sprint.
"It could be a business," he acknowledged. "I've partnered with Stitcher (an on-demand Internet radio service) that has the potential to promote me. I'm also thinking of adding a 10 a.m. Sunday morning radio program. There certainly could be sponsors for the shows and podcasts."
But Rains, 27, clarified he was no Rush Limbaugh.
"I admire the success he's made with his career," he said, diplomatically. "I don't agree with his views and I'm not the political type anyway."