This is a special year for three NAFB members who are celebrating 50 years with the organization.
They are: Roddy Peeples, Voice of Southwest Agriculture, Dallas, TX; Orion Samuelson, WGN, Chicago, IL; and Evan Slack, Evan Slack Network, Denver, CO.
These veteran broadcasters personify the spirit of the industry and its rich tradition. Each has made significant contributions to the organization over the years, while serving as mentors to members. Join us as we celebrate their history and their achievements.
Peeples grew up listening to farm programs on his family stock farm in Tehaucana, TX. He was hooked on becoming a farm broadcaster after he visited the WFAA studio in Dallas as a boy. Mentored by Dick Hickerson, Extension Radio Editor at Texas A&M, he started his broadcast career with a 12:30 p.m. quarter hour program on WTAW, in the early 1950s while he was a college student.
He graduated with a degree in agriculture in 1953 and spent the summer studying at the Bill Elkins School of Radio Licensing. Then he went to KADA in Ada, OK, where he performed every task imaginable including processing TV film he shot during the day while doing the 6 p.m. to midnight shift on the radio.
Peeples moved from there to KGNO in Dodge City, KS, and then to KLIK in Jefferson City, MO, before taking a job at KWFT in Wichita Falls, TX.
But Peeples was set on having his own radio network so he moved with his family to Midland, TS, and in 1964, the Voice of Southwest Agriculture (VSA) was born. At its peak, nearly 70 radio stations were a part of VSA.
Peeples has been actively involved in NAFB since 1956. He was Awards Chair in 1958, coedited NAFB CHATS and served as Pres in 1982. He also served as VP of the NAFB Foundation. He was named "Farm Broadcaster of the Year" in 1992.
In 1995, Peeples sold VSA to Clear Channel Communications and now lives in Dallas with his family.
A tragedy in Samuelson's early life led him to farm broadcasting.
At age 13, he fell from a load of hay. When examined by the doctor, he was told he had Leggs Perthes disease, a condition that affects the hip. Treatment required him to be in a body cast and wheelchair; in short, he lost his ability to walk for two years.
He spent a great deal of his healing time listening to the radio and told his teacher (who brought school assignments to his home each week) that he thought being a radio announcer would be interesting.
During his junior year in high school, he became involved in public speaking through the FFA. He earned a one-year scholarship to the University of Wisconsin as class salutatorian. He went to study journalism, but soon realized he wanted to talk, not write. So he left and took a six-month course at the American Institute of Air in Minneapolis. The day after his course ended he landed his first radio job at WKLJ in Sparta/Tomah, WI.
After two years, Samuelson moved to WHPY in Appleton, WI, working the night shift, hosting a teenage disk jockey request show from 10:30 p.m.- 12:00 a.m. He later served as program director for a few months. When the station manager became TV manager at WBAY in Green Bay, he hired Samuelson to join Bob Parker and Les Sturmer in the farm department in 1956, where he could utilize his farm background. He later became Farm Dir.
In 1960, WGN in Chicago offered him a job as farm director. He was named VP of the station in 1975.
Samuelson attended his first NAFB meeting in 1956 in Chicago. Nine years later he was named Pres of the organization. In 2003, he was named "Farm Broadcaster of the Year." He spent 30 years on the board of the NAFB Foundation, 20 of those as the Pres. He served 10 years as a board member for the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
In 2003, Samuelson was elected into the National Radio Hall of Fame, joining such illustrious company as Jack Benny, Harry Caray, Arthur Godfrey, Paul Harvey, and Lowell Thomas. He is the only farm broadcaster to be so honored.
Slack knew as a young boy that he wanted to be a radio broadcaster. His prosperous career began in 1952 at KWTO Radio in Springfield, MO. Radio was his passion and he never looked back.
During his two years of military service in the Marine Corps he worked at a radio station in Hollywood, FL, where he was stationed. After he served his military time, he attended the University of Missouri, earning a degree in agriculture with a minor in journalism. His career took off after graduation when he moved to Colorado and established farm and ranch departments at two different radio stations.
In 1967, Slack earned his pilot's license and combined his passion for radio and flying to create a unique style of broadcasting. He became an agricultural radio network pioneer in the West, working to establish network programming specifically targeted toward ranchers and farmers in the early 1970s.
Today he remains headquartered in the West, in Denver, and his network, The Evan Slack Network, is heard on more than 40 radio stations in nine states (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Kansas) and Canada. He travels by plane covering the territory, attending meetings, conventions and farm shows, visiting with farmers and ranchers to bring their stories to light. He reports on beef, dairy, lamb and pork production in the western U.S. and Canada. And he keeps his audience up-to-date on major crops such as wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, dry edible beans and sugar beets.
During his more than 50 years in radio broadcasting, Slack has been a strong leader and example to others. He has been an active member of the NAFB and served as Pres of the organization in 1987. Over the years, several agricultural organizations have honored him for his service and dedication to the industry. AM