Farm broadcasting: From Alberta to Africa
When it comes to farm radio, Farm Radio board member Caitlynn Reesor is an expert.
The difference in capitalization is intentional. Farm, or agriculture, radio is a long tradition in Canada. CBC’s National Farm Radio Forums in the 40s and 50s and Call of the Land, a show started by the Albertan ministry of agriculture in 1953, are only a couple of examples.
When Caitlynn, who hosted Call of the Land, was invited to become a board member in 2013, it just made sense — after all, her work is at its core the same as the African broadcasters Farm Radio works with.
“As a broadcaster, you want to give timely, accurate, useful, trustworthy information to your listeners, and you want them to take what might work for them in their own situation,” she says. “We’re doing the same thing.”
Despite working in farm broadcasting for 25 years, Caitlynn’s path to agriculture was circuitous — to start with, she didn’t grow up on a farm.
“I wanted to be a sports broadcaster,” she says. But, when she was asked to fill in for the host of the local agriculture show, the seed was planted.
“When I would talk to farmers and producers, they were so willing to share their stories,” she says. “If you had a question, they were more than willing to explain things.”
“Farmers are always looking for information.”Caitlynn Reesor, Albertan Farm Broadcaster
So, when a couple of Farm Radio board members invited her to join the organization, she brought with her a love for radio and agriculture.
On the board since 2013, Caitlynn has helped guide Farm Radio’s direction, and even helped mentor African farm broadcasters themselves. Her favourite part, she says, has been hearing the stories of listeners and broadcasters Farm Radio works with, as well as listening to the programs themselves.
“[I like] hearing what radio has done for people’s quality of life. It makes a huge difference for them to get that information. That’s what I like about ag broadcasting in general. I know it makes a difference.”
While Caitlynn now runs an e-newsletter on agriculture in Alberta, she says radio is still an essential tool for farmers — both in Africa and in Canada.
“Farmers are always looking for information,” she says “Radio is still relevant. It’s immediate. It’s personal. And when there are emergencies, radio is so important.”