Robinson's Route to Broadcasting Career

Tom Robinson (KSOM, Atlantic, Iowa) took a different route than most when entering the field of broadcasting. He grew up on a grain and livestock farm. In 1978, he headed to the University of Iowa as an education major.

“I was about halfway through when I married my high school sweetheart, and we returned to the family farm. I spent 19 years on the farm where my wife and I raised four children,” he said. “Selling cattle at the Omaha Stockyards is one of my fondest memories as a child and as a young cattle feeder.”

In the early ’80s, the cattle industry began to change direction. Feedlots became much larger, direct selling to the packer became mainstream, and the Omaha Stockyards went away. About that time, Robinson realized that broadcasting was his real passion.

“During my farming career, I volunteered as the public-address announcer at home football games and provided the local radio station with game wrap-ups afterwards. In the fall of 1998, I began broadcasting high-school football games as a color commentator on KJAN Radio. The turning point came the following spring after covering the state high-school wrestling tournament. I remember getting into the car and looking at my wife and telling her that I was going to make a career change.”

Two months later, KSOM Radio hired Robinson as its sports director and afternoon D.J. KSOM was a 100,000-watt FM country music station based in Atlantic. One year later, he was offered the job as news director and, eventually, farm broadcasting was added to his duties.

“I have covered numerous ag stories over the years. The most memorable was in December 2003 when BSE was diagnosed in a Holstein cow in Washington state. Many sale barns cancelled activity. However, one sale barn owner in the Cass County town of Massena plunged forward. The house was packed, and most of the people were there to watch. The cattle sold. I recall a young cow/calf producer sitting next to me. He exclaimed, ‘Did you hear the sigh of relief coming from everyone in this barn?’”

Robinson also covered numerous stories when the bird flu broke in 2015.

“I’ve walked through fields with agronomists, interviewed politicians, farmers, and FFA youth, and I’ve told the stories of Hall of Fame cattlemen. I have met so many interesting people in the farming industry and learned from them along the way. Agriculture is the most critical industry in this great country. I am proud to tell its story.”

Robinson has worked with KSOM Radio for 20 years. He is a member and past president of the Iowa Broadcast News Association (IBNA), and he has won IBNA awards in farm and business reporting, news coverage, sports coverage, and weather coverage. He continues to do play-by-play announcing for high-school sports, and he hosts a coaches show on Saturday mornings. Robinson gathers and produces a newscast at the top of every hour from 6 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., and he provides a market report every hour up until 1 p.m. 

“I have been married to my wife, Lori, for 40 years, and we have four children (who are all married) and eight grandchildren. I am getting up in age, but I still have the drive and the passion for this craft,” Robinson concluded.