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Agrimarketing : September 2012
28 Agri Marketing September 2012 The rich heritage of farm broadcasting began in the early 1920s, as radios began showing up in homes across the landscape of the nation and broadcasters included information about farm markets, weather and news in their broadcasts. With the spring of 1923 inviting farmers to the fields to put crops in the ground, the nation's first full-time farm broadcaster, Frank Mullen, took to the airwaves on KDKA in Pittsburg, sharing information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, county extension agents, equipment dealers, feed and seed salesmen and news from the Stockman and Farmer magazine where he was employed. Other radio stations across the country took note of Mullen's programming and within 20 years, nearly 100 farm broadcasters were on stations and networks nationwide sharing information that was relevant to their audiences. As the number of farm broadcasters continued to grow, broadcasters saw a need for a professional association, and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) was formed in 1944. Farm broadcasting continued to expand, and at the same time, agriculture did, too, producing more food and feeding a growing population here at home, and eventually, around the world. PAVING THE WAY As we look back at the past, it's fitting that our 2012 Convention Chair, Mark Oppold, has chosen "Our Rich Heritage, A Bridge to the Future" as the theme for this year 's NAFB Convention. Agriculture continues to appreciate and celebrate the foundations of its past, knowing howithaspavedawaytohowwe grow for the future. When Mullen was broadcasting in 1923, the average farmer fed eight people in the U.S. by 1945, the number had nearly doubled to 15 people. Fifty years ago, the farmer 's role was still important, feeding nearly 26 people. But in the 1960s, things began to change for agriculture --- the green revolution, opportunities to export grains and meat outside the U.S. and technology to raise more on fewer acres changed agriculture's role. Today, the average farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people globally. Agriculture has been tasked to feed and clothe a growing planet, and it continues to make strides in reaching the production levels needed for the future. Like agriculture, farm broadcasting has changed through the years, keeping up with the latest technologies to inform our audience. Just as farm broadcasting was part of the pioneer movement in radio, farm broadcasters were there as television stations began to visually bring information to an audience and again as early adaptors of sharing information and broadcasts on the internet. The power of farm broadcasting today is stronger than ever, with information available on thousands of radio stations, satellite television, the internet and social media. RELATIONSHIP While the agricultural environment has evolved, the one thing that has not changed is the broadcaster 's relationship with their audience. John Baker wrote in his book, Farm Broadcasting: The First 60 Years, "Every farm broadcaster knows that to attract listeners and hold them, they must know the subject, be sincere, and be friendly." Even though Baker wrote those words more than 30 years ago, the fact is, no other media has the relationship that farm broadcasters have with their audience. Farm broadcasters have been a constant source of information for producers and consumers, providing timely and accurate information. While USDA reports, county extension agents, dealers, sales representatives and publications continue to be a reference to producers as needed, farm broadcasters are consulted daily with information that producers trust. From its humble beginnings on a small crystal radio set in the early years of radio to its wide distribution through broadcast and internet today, farm broadcasting has been a part of agriculture's rich heritage for nearly 100 years and will continue to be the bridge for information to producers and consumers for years to come in the future. AM FARM BROADCASTING: A RICH HERITAGE by Tom Brand, NAFB Executive Director AG/RURAL BROADCASTING UPDATE Brand
AgCareers USA 2012