It’s hard to describe exactly what Orion Samuelson means to the agricultural community, as he retires from 60 years on the air at WGN Radio and a 68-year career in broadcasting. Sure, he’s a trusted source of information and a cheerleader. But it’s more than that, says his good friend and partner Max Armstrong.
“All along the way, he became a champion for the American farmer,” Armstrong says, adding of Orion’s 50,000-watt broadcasts to the Chicago area and beyond: “He was an agvocate before it became fashionable.”
Woodstock, Ill., farmer Linnea Kooistra remembers well how she came to know Orion.
“We became close friends with Orion after we bought a dairy calf to raise money for ag scholarships. Big O was the master of ceremonies. He said at the auction that he would come out to milk the calf when it had its first calf. Two years later, he did,” she recalls.
“It was the start of several years that we hosted farm tours and breakfast on the farm during Harvard Milk Days. Orion was there every year, bringing along Bob Collins, Tom Peterson and other staff from WGN. People from as far away as Chicago came as early as 6 a.m. on buses just to see Orion and the cows being milked,” Kooistra describes.
“Our lives have been blessed with his voice on the radio educating and informing, but even more so by his integrity and friendship,” she concludes.
Click through the slideshow for a look at Orion’s storied 68-year career in farm broadcasting: