Davenport Discovered Broadcasting in Grade School

“Unlike many in NAFB, I had no idea farm broadcasting was a career possibility when I was growing up,” said Ashley Davenport (Michigan Ag Today, Portage, Michigan).

“I was raised on a corn and soybean operation in Marshall County, Indiana, and I wanted to be a broadcaster, but it wasn’t until I was out of college that I knew the two could be married or that I would be led back to my roots despite my bull-headedness.

“A career exploration assignment in sixth grade first brought me to broadcasting, thanks to some encouragement from my mom. She organized a job shadow with the local morning news anchor. I had a great time, but I still thought of other possible careers as I got older. It was not until 10th grade when my speech teacher begged me to join broadcasting my junior year. That sealed the deal for me. I was going to be a broadcaster when I grew up.

“As a farm kid, I was a 10-year Marshall County 4-H member. For several years, I raised my own Duroc and Poland show pigs. My 4-H community really helped me be the person I am today. There was, and still is, no better week of the year than fair week. I am still active in my county’s swine committee. My dad always said I should do something with ag, but being a stubborn kid, I wasn’t going to do that — I was going to do news.

“I went to one of the best schools in the state for broadcasting, Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. I was an anchor for our TV station and the news director/program director/morning show host for our radio station.

“Before my junior year started, I accepted an associate producer position at the ABC affiliate in South Bend, Indiana, where I worked weeknights for two years while going to classes during the day. In that time, I quickly learned local news was not for me: shootings, fires, school-board meetings, and often stressful and understaffed newsrooms. I was hoping to get out of news and maybe land a marketing or public-relations job.

“For months before I graduated, I would look at job postings multiple times a day. Then one day I found what, at the time, was a perfect job description for a position at the Farm Journal broadcast office in South Bend. While I was there, I was part of all broadcast properties and produced AgriTalk for a year.

“In 2019, I graduated from Purdue University with my MS in strategic communication. Again, I was planning to get out of broadcasting and into a public-relations job in agriculture. But that didn’t happen. While I was excited to be graduating from Purdue, my current boss, legendary farm broadcaster Gary Truitt, was in the process of acquiring the Michigan Ag Today network and searching for a farm broadcaster. I never actually saw that job posting, but my boyfriend saw the sales position and encouraged me to apply, even though I had no sales experience. I sat on it for two weeks, applied, and that same day, Truitt had this reply: ‘We have a position we feel you would be very qualified for.’

“Despite being located an hour and a half north of my family farm, I can’t get over the amount of agricultural diversity in Michigan. I am constantly amazed with all the state has to offer, and the pride Michigan producers have is inspiring. There is never a day where I don’t learn something new. That constantly drives me to serve my listeners with timely news and continue to build a relationship with them and industry leaders.

“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. All these times I’ve tried to pull away from either agriculture or broadcasting, some force always kept pulling me back because there truly was a spot for me,” Davenport concluded.

Bottom photo: Ashley Davenport is interviewed by fellow Michigan Farm Broadcaster Terry Henne