Learned Farm Broadcasting From His Dad

Davis Michaelsen (Farm Journal Broadcasting, Cedar Falls, IA) said, “I didn’t go to journalism or broadcasting school, but from an early age, I learned from my dad, who was a seasoned writer and farm broadcaster.” For example, “At dinner, he would work with my brothers and me on non-regional diction. It had to be, ‘please pass the ve-ge-ta-bles,’ or, ‘may I please have some more wha-ter-melon’ with that subtle ‘D’ or the ‘L’ in melon that broadcasters are so fond of.” His dad was an NAFB member. “I remember joining him at the convention one year as a wide-eyed, 14-year-old farmboy in the big city.” Flash forward to 2012, Davis said, “I had been out of work for a year after the small college where I worked enacted budget cuts. Before that I had worked as a full-time professional farrier (horseshoer) for 8 years until my shoulders, knees and back decided my talents were best utilized elsewhere.” He continued, “I remember specifically praying to God that He would send me a job, ‘just like my dad had.’ It wasn’t a few days later when I came across a job listing in my town that simply read, Writer Wanted.” The result was “I ended up at Pro Farmer in Cedar Falls, IA, where my dad had worked through the 1980s and into the mid-90s. I was hired to roll out a new fertilizer analysis website. But since I had no formal training in journalism, the condition from the start was that if my boss, Chip Flory, ever left a Kwik Star or Casey’s job application on my desk, that I would accept my fate with grace, and move on with no hard feelings.” Davis was a few years into building the Inputs Monitor when Chip asked him to join him in his office. “He handed me a sheet of copy and said, ‘Here, read this.’ I sat quietly scanning the page. ‘No, out loud,’ he said. From then on, in addition to his responsibilities as Editor of the Inputs Monitor, Chip and Davis have done Market Rally live each weekday from their Cedar Falls office. “In January, we will be 1,000 shows deep. I found a job just like my dad had as a writer, later adding farm broadcasting to my daily duties.” He emphasized, “I have the luxury of working with Chip Flory, who is an encyclopedia of commodity market knowledge. That leaves me free to play the role of sidekick. With the farm economy as it is, I consider it my responsibility to our listeners to be a voice of encouragement and humor.

One of the greatest challenges of the show comes in the last minute of each broadcast – the tweet of the day. I grab three or four tweets from our listeners and write a unique intro line and then I perform the tweets.” If he were doing a tweet of the day on this post, it would be something like, “Today’s tweets are brought to you by a wink and a smile... when you are blessed beyond what you deserve, but want to avoid sounding pretentious when writing the story, just give ‘em a wink and a smile… and now, today’s tweets.” Davis concludes, “My goal as a rank amateur broadcaster is, first, to deliver the news clearly and within my time parameters. Beyond that, Market Rally listeners have come to expect the kind of jokes one might hear at the coffee shop sprinkled into conversations with analysts, traders and other farmers. Or, topical jabs at society, like in the tweet of the day, Mark Twain impersonations, or maybe an impromptu line sung in the old crooner style. Anything really to remind people that trouble rarely lasts long. To think of farmers grinning, looking down at their boots and shaking their heads, thinking to themselves, ‘Where does this guy come up with this stuff?’ is my daily bread and butter.” Ken Root (Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network, Dyersville, IA) once told Davis that he remembers his dad doing a funny bit for TV with a talking steer. “Ken, and others who know my dad, know where this guy comes up with this stuff. I am grateful to God for the opportunity, and to my dad for laying the groundwork in my mind to be able to deliver the news and the occasional chuckle to farmers, using, of course, the best non-regional diction I can muster.”