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.
How did you get your start as a farm broadcaster? To be honest, I don’t ever remember having farm broadcaster on my list of future careers. While trying to decide where to intern one summer, I emailed RRFN to see if they ever hired interns. They hadn’t but took a chance and hired me for the summer, I guess you could say the rest is history.
What are your hobbies? Working on the farm, that’s probably a weird hobby, but I love driving combine, unloading trucks at the elevator, raking hay, working cattle, etc. I also enjoy cooking, baking, sewing, playing piano and riding horse.
Tell us about your family. My dad, Jeff, manages our farm. My mom, Jan, does the bookwork for the farm and elevator, she just recently retired as a surgical nurse at our local hospital. My brothers Jason and Justin came back to the farm full-time after graduating college and my sister in-law Amanda works as a physical therapy assistant in Carrington.