Weld County’s ag innovation sounds across national radio waves
June 25, 2015
Among the quiet residential streets near Greeley's Bittersweet Park, the hustle and bustle of the Chicago Board of Trade sound from the speakers of Dean Moore's home computer.
The 90-second blasts of agricultural market news, produced by AgResource Co., broadcast daily to 19 states. Weekly commentary reaches 28 states, and other reports arrive through the radio waves in four Canadian provinces.
While economists in Chicago provide the sound bites for Market Watch, the idea for the show came 15 years ago from the then-retiring Moore.
Although Moore insists, "I'm not a cowboy," and "I'm not per se a radio guy," agriculture and media are a full-time job for Moore, now 80.
He operates as Market Watch's main man in securing major advertisers and locating additional stations to run the show.
While Moore plays down his work in agriculture and media, he has a long history in both. In the 1960s, Moore met Andy Griffith, who he convinced to record a minute-long radio spot for a hog supplement Moore had developed called Sow Tops.
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"It's new! It's easy to use! And it works!" Moore had the TV star reciting over the radio waves.
Years later, after retiring from Cargill at 65, Moore had a pull to return to radio. He pitched the concept of a quick, relevant news segment that could reach agricultural producers as they kept about their busy day.
Daniel Basse, president of AgResource Co. and one of the voices of the show, said he was skeptical of the idea for Market Watch at first. Now, 15 years in, and with a reported reach of more than a million weekly listeners, Basse said Moore's intuition was dead on.
"It really came because there was a desire, that as producers are in their tractor cabs, out in field, this is a way to reach them without having them in front of Internet all of time," Basse said.
For stations on the Plains and in the Midwest, Moore said Market Watch fills a niche, by providing daily, international insight on major commodity crops, such as corn, soybeans and wheat.
"Surveys tells us (radio) is not somewhat important, it's very important (for agriculture) and does add value," Moore said. "Radio is No. 1 for commodity information."
As a former farmer himself, Barn Media's Brian Allmer also understands the need for hands-off agricultural news.
While Market Watch operates with a staff of five, Allmer runs a one-man show, with the helping hands (and voices) of his family, out of his home near Briggsdale.
With seven updates a day and a weekly show, Allmer keeps the barn studio busy.
On any given day, Allmer will have a long list of the agricultural events he has already broadcast from this week, and a second list of where he is headed next.
Since its start in 2007, Allmer's radio show has expanded across the state, broadcasting on more than 15 stations, in addition to the special, live webcasts Allmer does on an individual basis.
While Allmer's wife, Connie, was also skeptical at first of the prospects for an ag radio show, she said she has been amazed by how Allmer's passion has driven the company to grow.
"He lives, eats and breathes it," she said.
Connie describes her husband as a true broadcaster, but more importantly, she says Allmer's faith drives him to carry out his work with compassion.
A lifelong farmer, Allmer traded his tractor for a microphone with a heavy heart.
In the late 1990s, a tragic car accident transformed Allmer's life and led him down an unexpected path to radio. The accident left two youth dead and Allmer with little possibility of walking again.
"He couldn't farm anymore. Riding the tractor hurt so bad. Our lives changed so much," Connie said.
The birth of Barn Media, however, has allowed Allmer to tap into his passion for agricultural education and programs for young farmers, such as FFA and 4-H.
"I wanted to get stories about good kids working toward better things," Allmer said.
Through Barn Media and involvement in organizations such as the Colorado FFA Foundation, Allmer has found a way to stay on the farm without the farming.
From tractor cabs across the state, producers start their days with Allmer's updates. And across the nation, farmers may not be aware, but they also start their days with news that sprouted up in Weld County, from a driven man, who refused to retire. ❖