Jahnke Honored by Wisconsin Association of Fairs

When growing up on a small dairy farm north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, some might consider showing cattle at the county fair the best way to spend your summer vacation off from school. For Pam Jahnke, this was exactly the case. It was more than just a competition though, for her, it was a way of life and the catalyst to her entire future.

After attending O’Connor Falls High School, Jahnke attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. Initially, she had intended on becoming an agriculture attorney, but she found herself in the school’s journalism program, simultaneously double majoring in agriculture and broadcast journalism. She started the first campus radio station, WRFW. The station gained immediate attention; and before long, Janke had a team behind her. In her senior year, she received the top national scholarship from the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. If that was not satisfying enough, she then found herself being offered a job on the plane ride home from the awards ceremony.

She started her career as a farm broadcaster. Stationed at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Janke found her voice and discovered that she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be.

In October 1990, Jahnke was offered a position in Menominee, Wisconsin, where she managed an AM radio station. Following various mergers and acquisitions, she moved over to Midwest Family broadcasting, a locally owned group that has several radio stations in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri.

Over the years, Jahnke partnered up with Jamie Budke, the executive director and connection secretary of the Wisconsin Fair Association; together, the two have created multiple projects to help the general public find more ways to engage with their county fairs and tell stories about their experiences.

The Wisconsin Fair Board managed to surprise her with the Friends of the Fair award – highlighting her exceptional work in making county fairs something truly special.

“Anytime that I pick up an award, I don’t care if it’s a big billboard in front of a large audience or if it’s a small award from a local 4-H, it always kind of takes me aback that they’re slowing down their busy lives and all the things that they’ve got going on to recognize me,” Jahnke said. “I consider myself so blessed that my job directly mimics what I would be doing in my personal life.”