Cyndi's Two Cents
Good or bad, experiences make us who we are
Anniversaries of all sorts give us pause to reflect on what was. As yet another year of my life in the business of farm radio passes by and a new one begins, I cannot help but be lulled back into memories of the good old days. But were they really all that good?
When I started my career in radio, 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 half of our income. If we didn’t bring in enough business of the “dollar per holler” kind, thus having a bad week in sales, we might not have enough money to buy food the next week. Or pay the utility bill. Or pay for gas. 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, if any of us was today the same employee we were back then – we would still be doing exactly the same thing we were doing then.
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? Whether you are an agronomist, an educator, farmer, banker or in any other career field, were there defining moments or events that helped to shape you in your current role?
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 the price of corn and soybeans for buying groceries or paying for orthodontia for the children who inherited their father’s crooked teeth.
It is my hope that you all have good memories of the past, but recognize that as good as those old days might be in your memory, chances are they were a heck of a lot harder than you might recall.
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