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Taylor Brown is president and owner of Northern Broadcasting System, Inc., a Billings, Mont.-based regional radio and television network that produces and delivers ag news and market programs via satellite to more than 80 affliliate stations in six states across the Rocky Mountain west.

How did you become interested in the agriculture industry?

Having spent the first 23 years of my life growing up on my family's cattle ranch in eastern Montana, I have always been interested in agriculture. Involvement in agricultural youth groups like 4-H, FFA and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity encouraged my interest and desire to be a leader in agriculture.

What are the key stops you have made in your career path?

When I graduated from college with a degree in Animal Science, I expected to spend the rest of my life raising beef cattle. Conrad Burns, then a popular local livestock auctioneer who had just started an agricultural radio network, suggested that I come to work for him, though I had no professional communications training or experience. From the first day, I knew this was the most exciting, fulfilling career I would ever find, offering me an opportunity to make a difference in the industry I love. I worked for Conrad for six years, until he sold the network to me and ran for political office. He is now a third-term U. S. Senator, and I am still on the air while continuing to manage a growing company.

What has been the most fulfilling position you have had?

I have several responsibilities besides on-air reporting, but the most fulfilling position is still a professional farm broadcaster. I cannot imagine a way to have a stronger influence in the agricultural industry than through the power of farm radio.

The incredible loyalty of the ag listener creates an awesome responsibility to get your facts right and to identify each day the key stories that will be valuable to those listeners. To earn their trust, to be able to have an impact and to play a small role in their success is tremendously fulfilling.

Our task is not unlike the person who comes into the Oval Office each morning to brief the President of the United States. We sort through the flood of information like a team of personal editors to discern what is important enough to earn a few precious minutes of our listener's attention. That listener trusts us to report to his "office" every day, at exactly the same time; to give him an orderly briefing on the most pertinent issues, events and markets, along with an assessment of what it all means to his business. My goal is to perform that service in a way that will brighten his day a bit, and at the same time position American agriculture in a positive light to the rest of my listening audience.

What is your advice to achieve success in this industry?

Most important to success in any industry is to do what you love and serve others. A complete commitment to excellent customer service is easy to profess, but I have found that very few really do it. You must commit yourself to helping your customers succeed.

How would you promote the industry to someone considering an ag career?

The agricultural industry has a phenomenally exciting future. One of the best things about my job in ag broadcasting is that it forces me to see the bigger picture, to consider the impact of the global economy and the huge demand for quality food and fiber. The importance of using natural resources wisely, and of helping food producers utilize products and make choices that are sustainable, will only increase in the decades to come. In my career, I have never seen the level of challenge and opportunity that exists today.

Agriculture tomorrow will not look much like it does today, but as the world population grows and nations embrace more freedom and independence, the first demand is for higher-quality protein. That's what we in American agriculture do best. For us to keep doing it, we must find ways to keep the American food producer profitable and competitive. AM

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