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Tom Brand
What is the top issue facing you as president of NAFB in 2003?

I think NAFB is facing issues similar to those faced by other ag media associations today; members are questioning whether they are receiving value for their investment in the organization. With constant change being the norm within our business, I believe it's very important that NAFB keep in constant communication with our membership. As incoming president of NAFB, I am committed to strengthening and increasing the flow of information to our members. Our broadcaster members must be informed about changes in our industry, and our industry-related members should know what farm broadcasters are doing to serve our combined audiences.

Several internal and external communication efforts are already underway: CHATS, our monthly publication, continues to play a role in relaying important information to our entire membership. Station and sales managers have recently begun to receive our "NAFB Insider" report from Gene Millard, director of marketing and promotion, to let them know what is developing in the agribusiness world. We post other industry-related stories on the National Farm Broadcast Service (NFBS), and our president records a monthly report that is fed through the NFBS.

It's important that NAFB remind agrimarketers about the job farm broadcasters do to inform the public. Today's farm radio and television audiences want to know about pending legislation, food safety, nutrition, markets, weather and world events, in addition to local issues that affect their lives. The unique thing about farm broadcasters is that we have contact with the total audience of a station. While our core audience is involved in agriculture, we tell a story that people outside of agriculture have an opportunity to hear. It's important not to overlook the fact that our signal reaches beyond the agriculture community.

Each medium does a good job of targeting a specific audience, but farm broadcasters tell their story simultaneously to rural and urban audiences. NAFB broadcasters need to continue to emphasize the importance of agriculture to America and our role in the world market. We bring the news first, but we also bring hope to farmers and ranchers, and balanced information to consumers.

Besides sharing the message of farm broadcasting's important role today, I also want our efforts to continue in the area of professional improvement. Employers are seeking employees who can function in a changing world filled with technological marvels. The professional improvement programs work to strengthen the value of the farm broadcaster in the workplace.

What will be your biggest challenge personally?

My first exposure to NAFB came as a college intern working at the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Mo. From that time, I knew that I wanted to be involved with this group of people. The magical atmosphere that was created at convention was one that drew me back each year until I became a member in 1992.

Early on, I knew I wanted to be more than a member of the association. While the sacrifice of time as a national officer can take its toll on family and co-workers, both were supportive of my decision to become more involved. As NAFB president, I hope to maintain a balance that contributes to the betterment of my family and employer. The top personal priorities in my life are involvement with church and family. It's important to me that I remain a good husband to Beth and caring father to our four children.

I'm fortunate that my company has maintained a long-term commitment to the NAFB. Our current station manager, Mark Vail, is a past president, and former station manager Gene Millard was a voting member of the organization for several years before joining the NAFB staff on a part-time basis this year.

How can you help agrimarketers achieve success?

NAFB members and agrimarketers need to continue to work together to tell our story to our audience. It's important to realize that the farm broadcaster's journalistic integrity is the key to his or her credibility with the audience. We ask that advertisers support our efforts to deliver the truth to our audience. The voice of the farm broadcaster has maintained a presence across the nation for more than a half century, but in order for that voice to remain a part of the community, advertising needs to support our members. You can enhance your credibility with farmers and ranchers by placing advertising with broadcasters who are doing the best job of informing their audience. Advertising and farm broadcasting go hand in hand.

Agrimarketers, using effective messages, can help farm broadcasters maintain the solid relationship we have with our audience by considering broadcast as part of the media mix. AM

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