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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jun 20, 2014

When I want to be entertained by an electrical device, my first choice is a radio. And it has been that way for years going back to early grade school.

I don’t know why I have such a great affinity for a radio. It just seems to give me what I want to hear without requiring much attention.

Maybe it is the idea of a voice in a box that I can control what I hear and how loud I hear it.

Maybe I am a lonely person in need of companionship.

Whatever it is, a radio is part of my day, every day regardless of any else I am doing.

My dad enjoyed the radio and in spite of my computer and satellite connections, I still have my routine I follow each day when I turn on my radio to a favorite AM station and hear the weather and markets, just as my dad did.

I have a large soft spot for farm broadcasters.

About 20 years ago, on a vacation trip to Duluth, MN, I sat in my car on the edge of Lake Superior trying to bring in WHO in Des Moines, 400 miles away, so I could hear the grain market. It sort of worked, but not that well.

Radio stations in Duluth do not think reporting the price of corn and soybeans is important. I had the same problem driving through Montana.

As recently as 20 years ago, most stations had a farm department with at least one person in charge of giving weather, markets, and ag related news daily.

It is getting tough to find a station with a farm department today. Most farm broadcasters have the gone the way of eight row equipment.

I remember when the Twin Cities powerhouse WCCO, the voice of many milking parlors for decades, announced the end of their farm department about 20 years ago.

Their farm director was Roger Strom, a good all-around farm reporter. He was called into the boss’ office, told the farm department was being eliminated, and that he no longer had a job. All on the same day.

The newspaper article that I was reading said that Roger Strom could not be reached for comment.

I interpreted that to mean we didn’t dare ask because he probably had something to say and we did not want to hear it. And probably couldn’t print it.

The Internet has been beneficial for an AM radio fan like me. I have many stations within my reach no matter where I am and on a stormy day, they are static free. Or if they are far way, I do not have to wait for night time when reception improves.

Getting the weather, markets, and someone’s opinion on where prices are headed is easier today but it is mix of old technology looking for an AM station with a farm department and today’s technology of hoping they are broadcasting also on the Internet.

Computers and satellites will never replace that human contact we enjoy as someone tells us what the markets are doing today and the chances of precipitation as we sit in a tractor, truck, or combine cab, or at the kitchen table.

The farm broadcaster who does this everyday is someone you feel as comfortable with as your neighbor down the road and becomes the friend you will never meet.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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