|By SUSAN BLOWER
DEGRAFF, Ohio — As each generation moves farther away from the family farm, some still serve the industry of farming with different and modern skills, such as radio broadcasting.
Finding high-tech equipment on the farm is not unusual these days. Farmers - along with everyone else - have become more sophisticated, but a radio studio in a farmhouse?
Smack in the middle of a 1,000-acre farm in Degraff, Ohio is a brand new radio studio from which Andy Vance and his wife, Lindsay Hill, broadcast farm news. They have launched Buckeye Ag Radio Network (BARN), a syndicated farm radio network, officially in November.
The couple transformed their first-floor office into a studio in the 150-year-old farmhouse by adding additional computers, an automation system, and sealing off the room. From there, the program is transmitted via satellite to stations throughout Ohio.
The home-based studio resides on Hill’s family farm, which her dad and brother still work.
Vance’s father worked for a 2,000-hog operation. With their respective farm backgrounds and ag surroundings, the couple feels prepared and inspired.
“We are thrilled at this point. Our goal was to have 10 stations by the end of the year (syndicating our program), and it looks like we will meet that goal,” Hill said between air times in the studio.
Ultimately, the bigger goal is to carry enough stations to cover the entire state.
BARN programming includes the Daybreak Edition mornings from 5–6 a.m., Farm News Live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Closing Report at 3 p.m. Radio stations can subscribe for 15-minute segments up to an hour or more.
Features include national and international farm news from a local perspective, interviews with producers around the state, market reports and analysis, and weather.
Hill said BARN will do a county fair tour during the summer, sponsored by the Propane Gas Assoc. They will sport a Gator that runs on propane.
Vance is the former director of Farm Broadcast Operations at 880 WRFD in Columbus. Hill worked alongside Vance at Ohio Farm Radio.
“This is a natural transition because of what Andy and I do and what we feel strongly about,” Hill said. “It made sense, and we saw the need was there.”
WRFD cancelled its morning and midday farm programs in September to add more Christian ministries to the station, Vance said.
“There is a void in ag radio programming in Ohio, especially since WRFD decided to cut back their programming,” Vance said. “The BARN is designed to fill that void by providing listeners with a long-form agricultural program.”
Hill said the new venture is a little scary, but she is glad for the chance to pursue a dream.
“This is what we’ve always talked about, what we’ve dreamed. WRFD just pushed us into going ahead,” she said.
The “dream” doesn’t allow for much sleep, however. Vance and Hill get up at 3:30 a.m. to prepare for the 5 a.m. broadcast. Between shows, they are visiting potential clients on sales calls.
“We’d like to be in bed by 9 p.m., but it doesn’t happen often,” Hill said. “The best thing, though, is it doesn’t feel like work.”
During the winter, the BARN will travel to trade shows and meetings for live broadcasts, as well as cover national events, such as the National Farm Machinery Show and the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting.
“It’s important to cover these events, and it gives us the opportunity to meet our listeners and get their feedback,” Hill said. “Our philosophy rests on serving the listeners, and we need that interaction with them to ensure that we’re delivering what they need.”
Listeners can visit the BARN’s website at www.buckeyeag.com to learn more about the program. The website features the day’s top stories and updates, audio downloads including podcasts, a free classified posting service, and web blog commentaries.
It also includes a listing of radio stations currently carrying the program and times when it is aired on each station.
Though interaction with listeners is a priority, Hill said she does not have to look far for inspiration.
“It’s only fitting that BARN programming would come directly from the farm,” Hill said. “Watching the corn harvest going on right outside the studio windows and seeing tractors driving down the road is a constant reminder of why we’re doing this.”
Published in the December 21, 2005 issue of Farm World.