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Illinois stations offer ag info for farmers, non-farmers

Randy Miller of Miller Radio Group thinks farm radio is important mainly because agriculture is the largest industry in all the counties his radio stations serve.

He owns a radio group of eight stations in central Illinois. Two of those stations are news and information and the other six play music.

The two news stations, WTIM Taylorville and WHOW in Clinton, feature eight hours of ag-related programming during the week. He said farmers listen to those stations to find out about the markets and what’s going on with growing crops. The ag stations currently have a part-time farm reporter.

“Our farm reporter covers meetings, talks to local farmers with a focus on growing crops,” Miller said.

While there is local content, he said they also have content from several regional ag networks including RFD IL, which has been an affiliate for Miller’s 42 years of ownership; AgriTalk, a nationally syndicated ag talk show out of Kansas City; and Agriculture of America, which is out of Nebraska.

Some of the guests they feature during programs include commercial brokers who give their take on the markets, as well as lenders and insurance company representatives.

County fair time also is a busy time for the two radio stations. Miller said they try to cover every county fair in their area and talk to interesting 4-H members about their fair projects.

“Listeners want to hear about the kids at the fair because that’s what we do,” Miller said.

When the Farm Progress show comes to Decatur, Miller said they do more coverage than any other station. They broadcast from 6:40 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the three days of the show, interviewing companies with new products as well as some of their advertisers. Miller said they do more than 70 interviews over the course of the show.

Miller, a native of Shelbyville, has been in the radio business for 51 years and built his first station at the age of 26 in Virden, Illinois. He has bought or built stations in 16 towns over the period of his career.

“Most all of the communities I have been in have a direct tie to agriculture and it is the biggest industry in those communities,” he said.

Miller said the responsibility of his farm radio stations is reporting on local agriculture. Even those who are not farmers will listen to the ag programming on those stations, and he has been told by non-farmer listeners that they have a better understanding of agriculture because of their stations.

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