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FUTURE OF FARM BROADCASTING

If you are stopped at a farm show by a clipboard and pen, donít be alarmed, you will not be expected to sign up for a shiny, new credit card with an unbelievably low interest rate. Actually, itís probably the National Association of Farm Broadcasters conducting research. The NAFB is using the mall intercept method of research at farm shows across the country, which means you may be asked to fill out a survey as you mill around tents and farm show exhibits.

NAFB is commissioning this research to determine what the future will hold for traditional farm mediums, how NAFB members can better serve farm radio listeners, and also the role of the Internet on the farm today and down the road.

GETTING STARTED

In the beginning stages, NAFB enlisted the help of Ron Claussen, president of Ag Media Research (AMR), to develop the questionnaire and collect the information from qualified producers. Together, they developed a plan to test the accuracy of the data it received by asking several questions that had appeared on previous surveys. According to Mike Hansen, head of the research portion of NAFBís marketing and promotion committee, if the "baseline" questions yielded responses similar to those in previous research methods, the organization could trust the mall intercept method and the farmersí opinions. The first batch of baseline questions was tried out at a winter seminar in Minnesota, and the answers proved to be very similar to previous research.

Next, NAFB and AMR developed a group of new questions that sought out producersí current perceptions on issues relating to agriculture. Because the baseline questions were a success at the winter meeting, the organization felt comfortable with the studyís accuracy. According to Hansen, this method of research has not only proven itself to be accurate, but it also allows NAFB to produce an analysis much quicker than the traditional AMR study.

BRANCHING OUT

NAFB liked what it saw in the mall intercept study and decided to test the same questions on a broader audience. Nearly 5,000 producers in 19 states answered follow up questions to the 2001 AMR study on listening habits and farm radio ratings.

According to the study, nearly 50 percent of producers believe the Internet will be their best source of in-depth information in five years. It is no big surprise that producers see a greater migration to the use of the Internet for in-depth agriculture information in the next five years. For those that believed that traditional media use habits would not be subject to change in relatively few years, these results could be surprising, says Hansen.

The same survey also indicates that producers will still be dependent on radio at that time. When asked about radio use in five years, 76 percent of the same producers were confidant that radio listening would remain at least the same or increase.

Steve Pearson, executive director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters believes these findings provide a great opportunity for partnership between Web sites and radio stations. "Farmers will log on to station Web sites because listeners and viewers have a strong connection with those stations due to the daily news and information farm broadcasters provide. Itís a perfect match because stations have the ability to drive listeners to their Web site," Pearson notes. "These trends will position farm broadcasters to gain an even stronger hand in their relationship with producers in the years to come."

MORE TO COME

According to Hansen, the NAFB plans to release other study results pertaining to the knowledge of farm broadcasters during its annual convention November 14-18. Without revealing too much information, Hansen says the results refer to the audienceís knowledge of farm broadcasters. NAFB members - you wonít want to miss these findings! AM


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