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Orion Samuelson has been the voice of agriculture at WGN Radio, Chicago, for more than 40 years and was recently inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
Orion Samuelson of WGN/Chicago joined with the ranks of singing cowboy Gene Autry, network talk show host Jim Bohannon, Los Angeles talk radio icon Michael Jackson, and legendary broadcast executive Mel Karmazin who make up the Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2003.

Samuelson and the others were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Radio Hall of Fame in the Chicago Cultural Center.

Heard on WGN Radio, Samuelson has served as agricultural services director since 1960. He and his associate, Max Armstrong, present 28 agricultural reports daily on WGN and the Agri-Voice Network of 50 stations. Samuelson is also heard daily on more than 260 radio stations with his syndicated "National Farm Report" and on 110 stations with his syndicated "Samuelson Sez," along with being seen weekly on 190 commercial TV stations on "U.S. Farm Report." The syndicated show, which is produced and hosted by Orion, started in 1975.

"Orion has spent 43 years on the radio in a major market," says Max Armstrong, agriculture broadcaster for WGN Radio. "And it has been at the same radio station. Think about that! That fact alone is remarkable!

"And his programs have been aimed at the rural audience. Those of us who've worked with him can't help but marvel at the accomplishment," Armstrong says.

In addition to his Hall of Fame induction, Samuelson's lifelong commitment to agriculture has been recognized by organizations in all segments of agribusiness. He was named a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and received the Lincoln Medal from Governor George Ryan - the highest award bestowed by the state of Illinois.

In addition, University of Illinois president James Stukel presented Samuelson with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters. In January of 1998, the American Farm Bureau Federation honored Orion and Bob Dole with the AFBF Distinguished Service Award. At the 1997 Illinois State Fair, Governor Jim Edgar changed the name of the Junior Livestock Building to the Orion Samuelson Junior Livestock Building as a tribute to Samuelson's nearly four decades of service to the agricultural youth of Illinois. In October of 1994, he was honored as "Man of the Year" by Heifer Project International on its 50th anniversary. He has received the National 4-H Alumni Award and the Honorary FFA American Farmer Degree, is an honorary member of Alpha Gamma Rho, the agriculture fraternity, and in 1985, was inducted into the Scandinavian Hall of Fame.

Many of these honors have been bestowed on Samuelson by youth organizations, on which he has made an incredible impact. "Orion has been a role model for generations of rural youth," says Ken Root, executive director of NAFB. "He is truly an ambassador for progress in rural America.

"It is the ultimate American success story for a farm boy to go to the big city and do well, but in this case, Orion took his knowledge of the farm with him to the city to talk about agriculture to farmers, business leaders and consumers," Root concludes. AM

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