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Agrimarketing : October 2008
2008 NAFB CONVENTION NAFB Member Profile: by Tammy Dodderidge, TD Communications he only thing Alan Jarand knew about radio when he was grow- ing up was that he listened to it now and then. He had no aspirations to become a broadcaster. But as the saying goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” which was the case for Jarand. Today his name is highly respected in the broadcasting arena, and his voice is heard daily on radio stations throughout Illinois. Jarand is the Director of radio for the Illinois Farm Bureau where his primary role is overseeing the administration and management of the RFD Illinois Radio Network. The network provides agricultural news and information statewide through 100 affiliate radio stations. For many consumers, it’s the only constant source of ag news they have available. A RADIO CAREER IS BORN Jarand studied environmental biol- ogy during college at Eastern Illinois University. But after graduating in 1970, he struggled to find a job in his field so he took a position as a junior high biology teacher. It wasn’t long, however, before the low-paying field became an obstacle for him. This is where fate stepped in. As Jarand was looking for a part-time job to help pay the bills, he met another teacher who was retiring from his part-time work at WLBH radio in Mattoon. Jarand applied at the station and was hired, and thus began his radio career. For the next five years, he worked each morning from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. at the station, then spent a full day teaching school. Weekends were tacked onto his schedule and soon his part-time job grew into a full-time job. When he was offered an opportunity to manage the FM side of the station in 1976, he didn’t have to think twice about it. After two years of managing WLBH, he was hired by Illinois Farm FATE LED HIM TO RADIO T Bureau as a broadcaster for RFD Radio. This summer he celebrated his 30th anniversary with the network. RFD ILLINOIS PROGRAMS RFD Illinois produces approximately 12 programs. Among them are hourly one-minute market updates, two-minute weather segments, four- minute livestock reports, and a daily commentary. One of its more popu- lar programs is a 25-minute morning show, “RFD Illinois,” that includes ag and rural news, a commodity market recap and weather update. It has been around since the network’s founding in 1967. The network also produces a one-hour daily show titled, “RFD Today,” which focuses on everything from tourism sites to state history to rural issues. KEYS TO SUCCESS Jarand works continually to maintain strong relationships with his affiliate stations, which he believes is the key to the net- work’s success. This means keeping in regular contact with them, attending their local events and responding to their production requests. “Without these affiliates, we would not exist,” Jarand says. “We recognize that so we have to work to find their needs and serve them.” Having a good understanding of the changing needs of farmers is also instrumental to the network’s success. “Years ago, radio was the only instant source of market and weather information,” Jarand says. “Today DTN and the Internet have changed all that.” His mission is to look for the information that radio stations can provide uniquely to farmers. “We work on news, features and lifestyle information,” Jarand reports. “We talk to other farmers around the state about their farm conditions and talk to people who have attended meetings and events that other farmers have not been able to attend.” The network’s advertisers include ag companies of many types such as seed companies, fertilizer and chemi- cal companies, and those who sell equipment. The network only targets RFD Illinois Radio Network’s Alan Jarand national companies for advertising, leaving the local and regional adver- tisers to their affiliates. RFD Illinois also has a revenue sharing package they provide to their affiliates for the national advertisers. THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE Like any business, agriculture has its ups and downs, but Jarand says he never worries about the future. “Agriculture is always going to be a mainstay of our economy. In Illinois it’s always going to be here and one way or the other it will always be profitable. People have to eat so there’s always going to be a demand for the food we produce.” AM October 2008 ¦ AgriMarketing i-35
November December 2008