Longtime Pa. Farm Show broadcasts fade away

    One tradition stretching back to the 1940s won’t be at this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show. Radio coverage by experienced agriculture educators has been eliminated at the show, which opens Saturday.

    In past years, Penn State’s Extension agents would cover every inch of the Farm Show.

    Chuck Gill, with the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences, says his staff’s reports would go to local radio stations who wanted customized coverage of their hometown exhibitors.

    “You know, little Johnny Smith won third prize in the youth swine competition, for instance,” he said. “So it got local names–people’s names, and local town names–into the broadcast.”

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    The radio team’s budget was cut, and little Johnny won’t be the subject of specialized reports this year.

    He says it’s unfortunate, because the extension agents who did farm show radio for so many years did it to educate the entire state.

    “Radio broadcasting is not their primary focus. They were dairy educators, health and nutrition educators, 4-H educators,” he said. “They believed that our audience is the folks that are going to be at the farm show or the folks out in the rest of the state who need to understand about agriculture so we’ve lost a little bit of something in not being able to offer this service anymore.”

    Gill says the change coincides with a decades-long trend of a farm show more focused on attracting new visitors than reporting exhibit results to the folks back home.

    “A large percentage of the people who come to farm show are not farmers, they are consumers, city folk, suburbanites,” Gill said. “They’re people that are coming out to eat food, go to the rodeo and take in some of the entertainment.”

    So the hometown radio station of the winner of the rodeo competition doesn’t get live coverage of its locally grown wrangler….as a longtime farm show tradition fades away.

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