Farm Bureau takes to air

John O'Connell/Capital Press Kendall Keller, regional manager for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's Upper Snake River Valley and host of the Farm Bureau Ag Show, discusses his lines while Neal Larson, news director at Rich Broadcasting, waits to record.

Latest medium allows group to weigh in on current ag issues

By JOHN O'CONNELL

Capital Press

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- After a few dry runs, Kendall Keller mustered his best radio voice and spoke into the microphone:

"Welcome to the Farm Bureau Ag Show on KID News Radio 590, 92.1 FM. This week, the Department of Labor issues rules regulating child labor on America's farms, and promptly reverses them. We're also going to talk about the proposed farm bill in the Senate and some challenges to it."

Keller is the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's regional manager for the Upper Snake River Valley. For the past seven weeks, he's also moonlighted as an agricultural radio show host.

The Ag Show, which started March 15, airs 7 to 8 a.m. Saturdays in Pocatello and Idaho Falls on Rich Broadcasting stations 590 AM, 1240 AM and 92.1 FM. It can also be heard elsewhere during that hour online at 590kid.com. The eventual goal is to also release it as a podcast. The shows are recorded Friday mornings.

"It's way out of my normal comfort level of what I usually do," Keller said. "You think, 'Where are we going to come up with enough material to do a show every single week?' Most of the time, we find more stuff than we can put on air."

Farm Bureau uses its radio show to weigh in on pressing agricultural issues, such as "pink slime" in the beef industry, a possible endangered species listing for sage grouse and a case of mad cow in California. During the edition recorded April 27, Keller applauded Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for listening to the many voices in the agricultural community calling for the reversal of farm child labor restrictions.

"This announcement shows the strength of American agriculture and grassroots actions," Keller said.

Keller has been surprised by the number of positive comments he's received from people who have listened to the show. He is joined in the recording studio by John Thompson, Farm Bureau's director of public relations. Rich Broadcasting news director Neal Larson produces the show.

"We thought an ag show would be a good fit," Larson said. "I knew Kendall and Farm Bureau had probably the best credibility of any organization of its kind, so they were the first people I thought of."

In addition to interviews in the recording studio, news stories are provided by two Farm Bureau staff members in Boise, as well as national news from the American Farm Bureau Federation. Market reports come from Clark Johnston, a grain marketing analyst working for Farm Bureau, and Ben Eborn with University of Idaho Extension provides a livestock report.

"We communicate through print, through the TV, through the Internet, all of the various social networking, but we didn't have a radio presence," Thompson said. "We know that a lot of farmers and ranchers listen to talk radio, and they're already here listening to Neal's show, as well as the national broadcasts, so we thought it was a great opportunity to get our message out, too."

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