Steve Bridge Receives $1,000 NAFB Foundation Continuing Education Grant

Steve Bridge (WFMB-AM/FM, Springfield, IL) was awarded an NAFB Foundation grant to participate in the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP). He says participating in this program has been a very good decision. “The seminars are great, but the personal connection you make with the 29 people in the class is the best part. Our class began last November. Over the past year, we have had seminars at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a week in Washington, DC, and a memorable trip to Gettysburg, PA.” In February and March, the group will travel for two weeks to Japan and Panama. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m honored to have been selected for the class and to join the small list of other farm broadcasters and journalists that are part of the IALP.” Individual members of the NAFB Broadcast Council are eligible to apply for a maximum of $1,000 that may be used for a variety of educational opportunities (like this leadership program). Steve is completing his second year of a two-year program. Applications are available through the NAFB Foundation. 

He grew up in a university town as the son of an engineering professor and a working mom. “I either wanted to be an umpire or sports broadcaster. So for the first 6 years after college I was a sports anchor and sports director on TV stations in Rockford and Springfield, IL. ”Growing up in Macomb, IL his desire was to be in broadcasting, but he wanted to be a play-by-play announcer for a baseball team or a weeknight sports anchor on a local TV station. “I accomplished that, but the broadcasting business can be fickle. I left TV, or TV left me, and I started working for a non-profit association in Springfield, IL. I handled their communications, but I missed the buzz, motion and connectivity of being a reporter and broadcaster.” He was working part-time for WFMB-AM as a sports talk show host in late 2008, when the station had an opening for a farm director. “I thought about it, but I didn’t know a thing about farming or agriculture, besides being able to tell the difference between a corn and soybean field. I figured I’d give it a shot because I knew I loved broadcasting and journalism.” In January 2009, he started at WFMB AM/FM as their agribusiness director. “I’ve really enjoyed most every minute of the job. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started. I enjoy the wide variety of people you meet and interview. My colleagues, especially those in Illinois, are the best people I’ve ever worked with. I count many of them as my best friends.” Recently, Steve started working with Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong on their television program, This Week In Agribusiness. His time covering sports gave him an advantage on the job. Many farmers and others in agriculture love sports. “Those same folks were used to seeing me on the sidelines of their high school games. That connection still exists and I get as many questions about sports as I do farming.” He adds, “Reporting on sports and farming has its similarities, most stories have outcomes, final scores or yields, and the really good stories are always about people.” He still announces about a dozen high school football games a year on their AM station.  Also, he is the WFMB afternoon news reporter and directs a statewide news service used by RFD Illinois. He covers the state capitol and other important news for their network. Steve co-hosts a weekly sports talk show at the station. Married for 11 years, his wife, Dina, works in radio, too. She’s been a morning show co-host for 15 years. They met while working in Rockford, IL.