Jim Coloff grew up around the radio business. His parents operated a small station in Forest City, in North Iowa. “I originally enrolled at Iowa State to pursue a degree in journalism. I quickly decided I wanted to pursue a career in broadcast management, so I double-majored in Marketing and Journalism. It was the best of both worlds.”
Like many college students, Jim thought he wanted to leave Iowa and live in a big city, until he did.
“I spent one summer at an internship in New York City,” he said. “I learned a lot that summer. I learned a lot about my career and I also learned that I didn’t want to live in a big city. Not like that anyway.”
So he did what many Iowa natives do. He came home.
He worked at a radio station in Des Moines and soon had an opportunity to manage his own radio station. “I really liked living in Des Moines,” he said. “But my parents were building a new radio station in Manchester, in Northeast Iowa. My boss in Des Moines actually advised me to take the job, and the challenge. I’m so glad I did.”
It was the beginning of a new adventure for Coloff.
Eventually, he became the President and owner of his own company, Coloff Digital. Today, he is proud to own 11 radio stations in Iowa, employ 38 full-time employees and 15 part-time employees. His stations are located in Forest City, Mason City, Cedar Falls, New Hampton, Charles City, and Britt.
“I never really thought about the impact we have on the Iowa economy, but it does make me feel good to know we are helping in some small way. I’m glad to know this is important to Iowa. Small businesses really are the engine that keeps Iowa going,” he said.
The Coloff business is also known for giving back to the Iowa communities where they have radio stations.
A few years ago, his company began offering scholarships to students at North Iowa Area Community College who want to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism. “Scholarships are so important,” he said. “I received a scholarship from the Iowa Broadcasters Association when I first attended Iowa State, so I know how much that helps students.”
His radio station in Cedar Falls, 93.5 The Mix, has received the Crystal Award from the National Association of Broadcasters three times. The award is given to just 10 stations across the country each year in recognition of a year-round commitment to community service.
Jim and his staff continue to look towards the future.
“Digital marketing is a major focus for us now,” he said. “We have two full-time positions focusing on digital and we plan to grow.” The company offers marketing services with visibility, social media, online reputation management, web site design and maintenance, email marketing and SEO marketing.
It’s small companies such as his that help the Iowa economy, Jim said. “I work with small businesses every day, not just my radio peers, but advertisers up and down Main Streets all over Iowa. I know big industries are import but I can’t think of anything more important to the economic vitality of our state than small businesses. If they are thriving, Iowa is thriving.”