I love history. I love learning about who came before us and what they experienced. I love knowing the stories that brought us to the place we are today as individuals, as family, as a church, as a community, a workplace, a country and as a world.
I celebrate a quarter of a century at my job with Brownfield Ag News this year, while Brownfield celebrates its 50th anniversary.
What began as a dream for Clyde Lear in college became a reality in 1973, when Brownfield Network went on the air. It all started with an idea from a master’s thesis.
Clyde was working in the newsroom at a radio station in the early 1970s in Jefferson City, Missouri. Derry Brownfield was the farm director there, doing market programming.
Clyde had done his master’s thesis on the creation of a radio network, delivering ag programming across the state of Missouri.
The two teamed up, along with four angel investors, and began delivering programming to nine radio stations in Missouri in January 1973. Derry talked. Clyde did everything else.
Within a year, 35 Missouri radio stations had signed up to carry the network’s programs. Incorporated as Missouri Network Inc. in November 1972, the founders never expected to grow beyond the boundaries of the state.
Within a year of going on the air, the network had outgrown the state of Missouri with affiliates in Illinois, Iowa and Arkansas.
At that time, they renamed the ag network Brownfield, a reflection of the important role Derry’s personality played in the early success of the network, and the newly minted state news network became Missourinet.
Learfield Sports was launched in 1975, with the radio rights to University of Missouri football and basketball, Clyde’s first college marketing partner.
Significant growth has occurred since that first broadcast in 1973. Brownfield Network has more than 600 affiliate radio stations in the Midwest and Delta region carrying its programming.
Learfield News has four state news networks, and Learfield’s presence in college sports has expanded to partnerships with more than 1,200 collegiate institutions. Learfield is a diversified and influential media and technology company.
Over the years, Brownfield has expanded to other platforms, but has managed to stay true to its roots. Our foundation is local radio, community and agriculture.
It is the job of our farm broadcasters to create relevant, timely content and information for our listening audience.
When I started at Brownfield 25 years ago, we were a radio network, and websites were a new thing. Today, in addition to radio programming, we create content for websites, social media, newsletters and video content for Brownfield TV.
Content is king — and I am so very proud of the Brownfield team for creating really good content!
Going back to my opening statement: I love history. It is the people and their experiences that make our history so rich and remarkable.
It is the farmers, the radio stations and the advertisers who made it all possible. Without them, there would be nothing to celebrate.