Mike Hergert was the 2007 National Farm Broadcaster of the Year and the 2001 President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. Mike co-founded the Red River Farm Network in 1995. Prior to RRFN, Mike worked at two radio stations in Grand Forks, as well as prior stops in Alexandria, Albert Lea and Preston, MN.
Why did you get into farm broadcasting? I sort of backed into farm broadcasting after my sportscasting career hit a dead-end. I got my first farm broadcasting job because I could read the South St. Paul markets. Bottom-line—I grew up on a farm.
Describe your typical day as a farm broadcaster. I'm not sure it's typical, but an average day for me is out of bed by 3 AM to start gathering, writing and editing news and markets for our half-hour broadcast at 6:30 AM. By 8 AM, my attention focuses on gathering more news and interviews for the 12:30 to 1 PM report. in addition to broadcast assignments, I'm also working on one of two magazine deadlines, for the North Dakota Soybean Grower and Northarvest Bean Growers Association's Bean Grower. After an average 11 to 12 hour day, I run or do some sort of cross-training to sweat away any stress I may be carrying.
What has been your favorite place to visit? I keep thinking back to my 2002 trip to Cuba. Hearing and reading about this 'forbidden place' captured my curiosity. I'm a child of the 50's, so seeing the cars I knew growing up still pieced together on the streets of Havana brought back a lot of memories. The fact that Cubans can keep 40-year-old cars running with supposedly no access to US parts, tells me a lot about the ingenuity of the Cuban people. They captured my heart and I have a great desire to someday be able to travel there to help them in a small way.
What are your hobbies? I'm an avid runner and a veteran of seven marathons. I enjoy skiing, hunting and ice fishing. I have more books on my agenda than I have time to read.
Tell us about your family. I've been married since 1971 to Linda, a farm girl who grew up 15 miles from me. We have three grown children and 10 grandchildren. Although Linda and I are not college graduates, I'm most proud that all three kids have at least their undergraduate degrees.
Randy Koenen joined the Red River Farm Network in 2007 after stops in the West Point, Nebraska and Willmar, Minnesota radio markets. Randy farmed for 20 years at Clara City, Minnesota.
What's the best part about being a farm broadcaster? The best part of my job is having a finger on the pulse of agriculture. I love getting out amongst farmers, seed dealers, agronomists, etc. I guess once a farmer, always a farmer. Plus, I get to play radio every day!
Why did you get into farm broadcasting? After I stopped farming, becoming a farm broadcaster was a natural progression. I love talking to people in the ag industry and serving the people who feed America and the world. While I'm not farming anymore, I can relay information to farmers to help them do their business better.
What are your hobbies? When I'm not working, I'm a musician. I play steel guitar and spend quite a bit of my free time practicing. I play one weekend a month at a Fargo church and occasionally play clubs on weekends. I also like to play golf and do some fishing now and than, but I'm not very good at either.
Favorite food? I think my all-time favorite food is home-cooked pork roast with potatoes and gravy. Throw in some green beans or fresh asparagus and I'm in hog heaven. A good prime rib runs a close second.
As a farm broadcaster, you spend a lot of time on the road. What are your favorite destinations? I think my favorite place to cover a story in the United States has to be San Antonio. To me, it's the garden spot of Texas with palm trees and cactus on the same block. It's just beautiful. My favorite travel experience was traveling to Mato Grosso, Brazil. We spend five days out in the fields of Brazil looking at soybean rust and Brazilian production methods.
Tell us about your family. My wife Debbie and I have two adult children and two grandchildren. Jenny and Matt and their daughters Keyanna and Brielle live in Clara City, Minnesota. Joe is at home with us in Grand Forks. Oh yeah, I can't forget Bailey, our cocker spaniel.
Don Wick was named the NAFB Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 2002 and served as the president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in 1997. Prior to RRFN, Wick was a farm broadcaster at WCCO Radio in Minneapolis and WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.
Tell us about your roots in agriculture. I was blessed to grow up in the bluff country of western Wisconsin. Mom and Dad raised cows and kids on a picture-perfect farm near Alma, Wisconsin. I was active in 4-H and showed dairy calves each summer. During high school, I started working at the radio station in Wabasha, Minnesota. While I had dreams of a career spinning records, I found my niche in farm broadcasting. Thankfully, I've had the chance to work at some of the best farm radio operations in the country.
Describe your typical day as a farm broadcaster. Every day is different. I crawl out of bed each morning at 3:30 AM. Mike, Randy and I all spend a lot of time writing and preparing for each newscast. In addition, I edit our weekly e-newsletter FarmNetNews and spend time on that nearly every day. My duties also include a role on RRFN's sales team. Whether it's covering a plot tour or a congressional hearing or helping a client with a communications plan, I love my job.
What have been some of your favorite travel spots? My all-time favorite was Switzerland. What a beautiful country. It is just breath-taking. My pedigree includes some Swiss blood and it was great seeing the 'home country' during a Syngenta trip in 2003. I've also had the opportunity to travel to Havana, Cuba twice. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and former Cuban President Fidel Castro made that trip memorable. I also traveled with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Afghanistan in early 2010. Kolleen and I also hosted a Holiday Vacations tour to Alaska and if you ever have the chance to visit our 50th state, do it. It is an amazing place!
What are your hobbies? I love to spend time in the kitchen or in front of my grill or smoker. It is always fun to try out new recipes. I also love to read; mostly biographies, professional improvement books and cookbooks.
Tell us about your family. Kolleen, who is originally from Arcadia, Wisconsin, and I were married in 1982. We have two sons, Tony and Sam. Our grandkids, Aiden and Piper, keep us busy.
Experience: • Worked in radio in South Dakota for over 15 years, before joining the Red River Farm Network in August of 2013. • Broadcaster at northeast South Dakota agriculture radio powerhouses KWAT and KDLO. • Member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting where she currently serves as the West Region Director. Industry Recognition: • 2012 Media award from the South Dakota Pork Producers Council • 2011 The Cattle Business Weekly’s elite Top 10 Industry Leaders Under 40 • 2010 Graduate of the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (SDARL) program • 2009 Farm and Ranch News award from the South Dakota Farmers Union • 2009 Excellence in Public Outreach Award from the South Dakota Corn Growers Association • 2009 Friend of 4-H Award from Deuel County • 2008 Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota FFA Association • 2005 Honorary State FFA Degree • 2004 Friend of 4-H Award from Codington County
My roots in agriculture: I grew up on a small family crop and dairy farm in southeast South Dakota. We raised mostly corn, alfalfa soybeans and oats growing up We had pigs for many years as a kid too. I showed my ponies “Bummer” and “Lady” (who is 33 years old now and has no idea that she’s actually quite old for a pony) and Brown Swiss heifers in 4-H. I was an active FFA member and was the first female president of my high school’s chapter.
Why did you get into farm broadcasting: There was always a radio on whatever tractor I was using in the field so I listened to a lot of radio as a kid. I did a shadow day in high school with DJ’s at an area radio station. That experience gave me the itch for radio. Add that to my love of agriculture and the Journalism Department at South Dakota State University made it an easy choice to major in Agriculture Journalism. Much of the focus was on newspaper or television, so I did stray “off the beaten path” a bit taking the radio track.
Describe your typical day as a farm broadcaster: I’m the “second shift” of writers at RRFN. I come in much later than the guys… around 7am. I start my day sorting through the stories Mike, Randy and Don have written that morning. I spend a lot of time listening to audio and writing out the words so the stories can be shared on our website, cellular phone app or Facebook page. Some stories make more than one category, others are only used on-air. Each day I’m planning and selecting stories for our weekly e-newsletter FarmNetNews that comes out on Mondays. It’s a culmination of the major headlines RRFN covered the previous week. It also has fun tidbits with recognitions, career moves, company expansions and more that are of interest to the over 5500 newsletter subscribers. I also look for story ideas from a variety of sources, conduct interviews and write stories for our news programs. I also help out with market interviews and reports and posting audio to our website and cell phone app.
Hobbies: I love to spend time with friends and family. I enjoy reading books, mostly fiction and looking at scenery whether it be hills, trees and rivers or old buildings, churches or cemeteries.
Tell us about your family: I’ve never been married so my “kids” are my two cats, Billy and Toby. My parents, Dale and Eileen, and my younger brother Jeremy still live on the farm I grew up on. My older sister Jill, along with her husband Curtis Alderson and my three handsome nephews Alexander, Zachary and Matthew live on a farm near Osmond, NE. My younger sister Jaci, husband Chad Solaas and my two beautiful nieces Jordyn and Alisha live in Summerset, SD.