A couple of relevant things happened in my professional life last week. I celebrated 29 years in the radio business on Tuesday, April 1, and a work colleague and very dear friend retired from our company after more than 3 decades in the business. At a celebration/roast in Joyce’s honor, there was a lot of talk about the good old days.
It seems like everyone has a special memory of the way it used to be back when there were only a few people working for Brownfield Ag News.
Only a couple of times each year do I have the opportunity to bring all of my staff together. It just so happened that in addition to my anniversary and Joyce’s retirement, I held my annual spring meeting last week.
As I prepared for the meeting, I thought a lot about those good old days everyone was talking about. Back when being the farm director at the local radio station meant answering the telephone, spinning records on Sunday afternoons, working on holidays and week-ends, and making sales calls to local businesses. We had to make advertising sales calls because the commission on those sales was more than 50% of our income. If we had a bad week in sales, we might not have enough money to buy food the next week. The salary of a farm broadcaster was only slightly above poverty level. If that.
Who we are and who we are not has been influenced greatly by those good old days and every other step in our career’s journey. Looking back and celebrating history is great. However, as I told my staff last week, if any of us was today the same employee we were back then – we wouldn’t be on this team.
A farm broadcaster has a unique role. Traditionally, the role of a farm broadcaster was more relational than that of a news director or other reporter. The farm broadcaster is present and more visible at events than a typical news reporter might be. Farmers feel a sort of kinship with them. That’s not a bad thing, but it should not be an excuse for falling short as a responsible journalist if that is who you claim to be.
What is your unique role and how did your experiences in the good old days help mold you into the person you are today?
As a child of the 1960’s from a rural community, I saw my share of farm families flee the land for better opportunities after too many seasons of flooding or drought. The Farm Crisis hit the Midwest hard between 1981 and 1985. As a college student at that time, so many of my friends that had planned to get their degrees and put their education to use on their family farms, found themselves seeking employment elsewhere. Others who had seen the yearly struggles of life on the farm were determined they would never be dependent upon on the price of corn and soybeans for buying groceries or paying for braces on their children’s teeth.
It is my hope that you all have good memories of the past, but the good old days weren’t necessarily the best days of your life.