After a brief time where it couldn’t be heard locally, Linder Farm Network is back on the air in the region and listeners couldn’t be more thrilled. The longtime radio staple is finding renewed interest broadcasting through Winona Radio.
“We began just a couple of months ago and the response has been very good,” says broadcaster Lynn Ketelson. “We try to tell that story and bridge the gap between consumer and farmer on the air.”
The 41-year program, based out of Owatonna, has been listened to by more than one generation of farmers. It began broadcasting in 1976 and was set up by the Borgen family, who owned radio stations in the area. Don Linder, and his brother Bill, were instrumental in getting the farm network started. Don was known as a pioneer in his work, eventually earning a place in the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The network was one of the first in the country.
Ketelsen has been with the network since the beginning and was the original farm broadcaster. He and the network were the first in several areas including bringing commodities futures markets to the airwaves. “It’s information that farmers need to know to run their business successfully.” Linder Farm Network was also the first in the country to use a market analyst. “We would get a commodity broker on the air with us and talk about why the markets are moving up or down,” adds Ketelson.
The network played on for 30 years, but a corporate decision changed their course and in 2016 the network was suddenly not available locally. “The feedback from farmers to get back in the area was incredible,” recalls Ketelson. “We received many, many emails, and farmers approaching us at meetings.” Eventually, after searching, Ketelson found another station for the network to continue on local airwaves. The network now covers the bottom third of state, and parts of Iowa and South Dakota, through 25 affiliate stations. Full programming can now be heard on KG Country 1380 AM from Winona, while shorter reports are available on Minnesota 97.5 FM in Rochester and KAGE Wild Country 99.3 in Winona.
“We are very happy to be back on the air in this area,” he adds.
“Our network is the most listened to source for farm information in Minnesota according to AMR research,” says Ketelson. However, the network is for more than just farmers. “We have both farmers and non-farmers listening in,” points out Ketelson. Part of this can be attributed to the network and Ketelson’s efforts to bridge that grower-consumer gap. In addition to radio reports, they are active in being a part of area happenings, giving live on location reports at major events and engaging with local groups through speaking engagements and more. Additionally, Ketelson enjoys the area in his downtime. “Fillmore County is like family to me. We love this area of the state. The biking, camping, shopping and eating are just a lot of fun. We never miss the pie either and we have a lot of good friends here,” he says.
The team at the network, including Linda Brekke, Jeff Stewart, and Ketelson put together two roughly 30-minute feature programs; Midwest Farmtime and Mid-Day Farm Review. The first gives listeners a thorough review of farm news, grain and livestock markets with market analyst, local elevator prices and commentaries, and weather, including a live meteorologist. The interactive program also features AgriCall, which fields calls from farmers while delving into recent news and markets. The latter offers another look into markets with commentaries and an in-depth analysis from agriculture economists. Midwest Farmtime airs from 6:10-6:35 a.m. while Mid-Day Farm Review comes on from 12:30-1 p.m.
Six days a week, the team puts together the award-winning information. Stories range widely and have included crop and livestock changes and technologies, changes in regulations, effects of weather patterns on farm yields, farm-related events, such as county fairs and the state fair, and the momentum of locally grown food. “Food is the universal language and locally grown food is very popular,” notes Ketelson. The network is also strong on farm safety. “We do many stories on farm safety,” adds Ketelson. “From being careful around machinery to grain bin safety to watching out for tractors on the road, it’s a very important topic.”
Additional market updates provide listeners a look at opening and closing markets and pertinent changes throughout the trading day, including “tick by tick quotes” from the Board of Trade and local, national, and even international market analysis. Market Updates are available at 9:35 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
Throughout the day, the station also provides brief updates through Farm Update, Early Market and Ag PHD, and Market Minute. The day’s programming wraps up at 2:35 p.m. with the Closing Market Minute.
The network is also taking advantage on a broader range of listeners and capabilities. They are the voice of FarmFest, the state’s premier farm show, and the North American Farm Power Show. Additionally, Ketelson appears nationally on RFD-TV each week with TV reports. The Linder Farm Network can also be streamed live at www.linderfarmnetwork.com and has additional online presence on both Face book and Twitter. To keep in contact with listeners, a Weekly Ag Mail update can be e-mailed directly to farmers.
“We believe in local ag programming and really enjoy serving farmers in Fillmore County,” says Ketelson.