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NEXT STEPS, NEW DIRECTION
Editor's Note: Ken Root is the newly appointed executive director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. He served as the executive for the National AgriChemical Retailers Association from 1989 to 1992. Most recently, Root was the host of "AgriTalk."

AM: Why were you interested in the executive director position?

KR:
I've been a member of NAFB since 1974 and served as president in 1986. Beyond my wife and children, my love for the business of farm broadcasting and relationships fostered by NAFB is the greatest of my life. I feel that we are facing critical issues today, and I want to help overcome current problems and plan for a stronger future. I've worked as an association executive before and felt the timing was right to attempt to help my industry and my colleagues.

AM: What do you hope to accomplish in the short term as executive director?

KR:
First, I want to offer hope to every farm broadcaster, station and network that wants to stay in this business. We recognize the rapidly changing dynamics in the whole field of agriculture production, marketing, and ag communications and that farm broadcasting's strengths are immediacy, credibility and daily delivery to producers. NAFB members are uniquely positioned to be a vital part of every advertising and communications plan. The best way to assure mutual success is to have a cohesive group that is willing to change to fit the times.

AM: What are some of the biggest challenges facing NAFB, farm broadcasters and ag media in general?

KR:
Consolidation of agribusiness ranks at the top. Total traditional farm producer advertising dollars have declined as new technologies and mergers of former competitors have changed the landscape. Documentation of delivery to the targeted producer is the challenging responsibility of the media, including farm broadcasting. Farm broadcasters have to prove that the farmer listens to them and responds to their advertisers creative message. Farm broadcasters have to become more sophisticated in their knowledge and technical skills, and continue to interact with their audience. No other media has a better relationship with the producer than the farm broadcaster. Media buyers must be shown that frequency, reach and relationship can be accomplished by their placement of quality, creative advertising with an NAFB member station or network.

AM: Will you continue to have the annual convention in Kansas City, Mo.?

KR:
The annual convention will be held in Kansas City through 2003, with an announcement of the 2004 convention very soon. We have a long history with the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, but want to offer the best meeting at the lowest cost to members.

AM: You've been in broadcast before. How will your experiences help in this new role?

KR:
I hope to draw from my experience as a farm broadcaster and the interaction I've had with growers and advertisers. Farm broadcasting needs a moral base to cover news fairly and accurately, and it needs to know how to utilize its credibility to gain advertiser support. NAFB will offer our voting members the means to improve their communication and promotion skills, and offer their sales staffs the means to secure additional advertising.

AM: Tell us about some of your philosophies on running a successful association?

KR:
An association should represent the best qualities and highest aspirations of its members. An association should have a cause and foster camaraderie. It should be run with the highest integrity and with imagination that inspires members to rise to their greatest potential.

AM: If you had to write a headline about NAFB and where you want the association to go, what would it be?

KR:
'NAFB Leads Agriculture Into 21st Century.' We must offer our audience of farmers, ranchers and rural lifestyle citizens the information they need to make good decisions. We must continue to be the friendly, authoritative voice that gives them comfort and confidence in their profession or avocation; yet we must embrace new ideas and opportunities. Farm broadcasting is about communicating. It is not necessarily tied to the current means of delivering the message. We must be as responsive to technology as our sponsors and our grower audience, while upholding the strong traditions of our past. AM


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