This year’s chamber chair plans to support membership expansion, updates to office

Published 3:23 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

Jason Plunk, who owns Bullseye 95.5, is the new chairman of the board of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and he’s got a big personality that he’ll use to merge with the big plans the chamber is facing. Plunk plans to jump into expanding membership, as well as updating the chamber’s building so that Oxford visitors are greeted with the best of the best, right from the start.

“The chamber has grown to a record number of 734 members, made up of businesses, nonprofits and personal memberships,” he said. “That’s wonderful and we want to grow membership even more. However, while membership has grown, our building has not expanded or been updated. That’s something we plan to work on.”

Plunk is someone well known to the community at large. It’s not just because he’s the owner of a local radio station, but also because he’s lived and loved Oxford since he was about three weeks old.

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Plunk was adopted by his loving parents when he was a wee babe. He said he grew up happy and content with his life. “I’m from Oxford, but I wasn’t born here,” he explained. “But I don’t remember not being here, so I consider myself a native.” He graduated from Oxford High School and attended Ole Miss.

He first became interested in the media business after seeing DJ Sunshine Kid, which “mesmerized” Plunk. “I told mama how I felt about it and I’d go to Ron’s Music Store to buy records,” he said. “I’d buy record players from TG&Y (a retail store popular at the time) and by 15, I had a party every weekend to DJ. It was good money, too – $100 a night.”

When friends opened the local radio station, his interest in

media continued to grow. “My first job there was handling church programs,” he said with a laugh. “I would push buttons to start or stop the show. That was my entire job.”

From there, he began a Saturday show on 95.5, where he played disco – the music popular at the time.

He ended up buying the radio station in August 1995. “I have zero regrets,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t know how to do anything else!”

Plunk has been with the chamber for a long time. “I can’t even remember” how long, he said. “I’ve just always been a part of it – for decades.”

He’s most proud of his years as an ambassador. “I just received my 9-year pin,” he said with pride. “It means a lot to me. Ambassadors are nonpaid employees of the chamber. It’s a way for members to help out: We go to ribbon cuttings, sign people in to chamber events and lend a helping hand any way we can.”

Plunk intends to continue on the chamber’s plan to update its building, work on the logo and revamp the chamber’s app. He said the app is going to be such a game-changer for chamber members because a member – with just a few clicks – could find another chamber business to do business with, without having through the Google suggestions.“The chamber is made up of reputable businesses,” he said as explanation of the need for connections. “When businesses come together, they help each other. We are always stronger together.

“The chamber involves businesses led by people who work in Oxford. Every event, like After Hours get-together, means you might run into your plumber over there, or your doctor by the door, or anyone else you do business with. It’s a wonderful organization to make those connections. When you talk to a chamber person, you are already talking to someone you do business with. Your customers are members. Every event means a potential client may be attending.

“No one wants to be part of a chamber that is rude. Even people in direct competition are chamber members and they stand shoulder to shoulder, supporting each other. We want all to do well. That’s something that cannot be more denied when trying to do things on your own.”

Plunk also mentioned how important it was for any town or city to have an active, involved chamber of commerce. “So many people come to Oxford and fall in love,” he said. “It’s that kind of a place. One couple I know had a daughter who planned to attend Ole Miss. They bought a house for her and after she was done with school, they just moved into that very house themselves.

“Imagine moving across the country to somewhere you don’t know anyone. They chose Oxford. And now they are personal members of the chamber and work to do everything they can to help out.”

Plunk is proud of the legacy of his own family. His father dedicated 28 years of his life as Chancery Clerk of Lafayette County. He also gave great advice to his son, Plunk said, including this tidbit about going into business and finding success: “Have a good accountant and join the Chamber of Commerce.”

That’s exactly what Plunk did.

Though his dear mother died 23 years ago, he still speaks fondly of her memory. “I’ve traveled some, but I now live in my mother’s house,” Plunk said. “At 52 years old, I’ve actually moved only 155 feet from the house I grew up in.”

That is precious to Plunk. In the future, he said he would love to travel and see the world – maybe. But that would mean he would have less time to devote to the city he loves and the people he calls friends.

“I’m not going anywhere – I’ll be with the chamber [in some capacity] as long as they’ll have me,” he said with a chuckle.