Lorrie Boyer, farm director at Farm Radio 1010 KSIR in Fort Morgan, Colo., was elected 2019 president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Founded in 1944, NAFB’s members serve farmers nationwide with agricultural news, weather and market information.
“As a farm broadcaster, my goal is to serve my listeners with the most accurate, usable and up-to-date information that I can,” said Boyer. “As 2019 NAFB president, I hope to provide the same level of service to the association, its members and the farmers we broadcast to.”
Make no mistake: Farming remains big business in this country. According to the Department of Agriculture, American farms contributed $136.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015 alone. That works out to about 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
And if you are tempted to think of farm broadcasting as a relic, here are some important bits of information. Boyer says 10 years ago, NAFB had 146 broadcasters, with total membership of 484. Today membership has grown to 176 broadcasters and total membership to 808 — a jump of about 20 percent in farm broadcasters and a doubling of membership in 10 years.
“The increase in the number of farm broadcasters is reflective of the renewed interest in agriculture, people wanting to know where their food comes from and the success of the farm economy within the last 10 years,” she said.
“The relationship farm broadcasters have with their audience today is as strong as ever; in addition to listeners feeling like their farm broadcaster is part of their ‘family,’ the advent of social media has only added to the broadcaster’s relationship with their listeners.”
She said research shows farm broadcast listeners rank their farm broadcaster high for credibility, timeliness and accuracy. “Even as information is readily available from the internet or even smartphones, the relationship the farm broadcaster has with their audience is unrivaled.”
Further, she said, interest in ag communication and journalism is high among college students (NAFB’s student membership is up dramatically); the number of network affiliates continues to grow; and agriculture advertisers, she said, continue to recognize the value of farm broadcasting delivering their message to a premium market.
Lorrie Boyer’s commitment to farm radio goes back over 20 years, when she had just graduated from Colorado State University.
Before graduation Boyer was a intern at Colorado’s Ag Journal. After leaving the university in 1996, her knowledge of farming helped Boyer land a job as agricultural news director at KLMR Radio (93.5 FM) in Lamar, Colo.
Hosting a morning and afternoon show at KLMR taught her how to be an on-air personality. Her combined skills led competing station KVAY to hire Boyer in 2000 to set up a new agriculture department with her in charge, while keeping her on air as well.
Since then, Boyer has become most known for her farm broadcast work at KSIR — initially between 2004 and 2011, then from 2014 to the present as the station’s farm director and KSIR morning show host.
Billing itself as “Colorado’s Only Agriculture Station,” Farm Radio 1010 KSIR is serious about farm content. It broadcasts agricultural news and reports 5 to 10 a.m. weekdays, reports on farm markets at the bottom of each hour until the markets shut down, provides the closing grain bids twice each weekday afternoon and interviews ag newsmakers on the weekday lunchtime show.
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Boyer lives and breathes farm broadcasting, both at KSIR and through her involvement with the NAFB, where she previously held the offices of vice president and regional VP.
“I get up really early every day to serve my listeners,” she said. “On bad weather days, I drive into work to get to the studio, so that I can tell listeners to not be on the roads any more than they have to.”
As a long-time farm broadcaster, Boyer has built strong personal relationships with local farmers. “There’s profound mutual trust between me, KSIR and our listeners, which exists outside of work as well as on the job,” she said. “I don’t think satellite radio or any other new technology will take that bond away.”
When Boyer started working in farm radio, “we were using 8-track carts and reel-to-reel machines,” she said. Meanwhile, listeners, typically working outside or in farm buildings, got their real-time information mostly via radio or perhaps TV.
Now, although Boyer still does radio reports in the station and on location, “I’m also broadcasting video live via Facebook,” she said. Boyer and KSIR are getting their content out via streaming media and podcasts as well, in a bid to reach Millennial farmers who don’t tune into radio as much as their parents do.
KSIR can be heard live at www.ksir.com, with a content-rich farm news feed that puts many mainstream local broadcasters’ news efforts to shame.
Adapting to new media is just part of 21st century farm reporting, Boyer said. “After all, we’re broadcasting to tech-smart farmers who are using drones to monitor their crops.”
Boyer had considered seeking the role of NAFB president for 15 years now. Driving her dream is “a desire to give back to the association that has done so much for me and American farm broadcasting,” she said.
Now that she has the job, Boyer wants the NAFB to establish a mentorship program to train the next generation of farm broadcasters. She wants to teach the content production skills to do the job right, and the technical know-how to make the most out of the many communications options open to them, from radio to smartphones.
“I also want to develop succession training within the NAFB, to prepare our younger members to move up in the association and take charge one day,” said Boyer.
When her term ends in December, Boyer will stay involved as past president and a tireless devotee to the NAFB and the cause of farm broadcasting in general.
“In either case, it’s all about service,” she said. “Whether doing our best to run the NAFB well, or to broadcast the very latest news, weather and market news to farmers, we are servants working for the public good.”