December 1, 2022
Podcasts have been around for nearly two decades, but the format has come into its own over the last five years. And if you thought podcasts were a passing fad back in 2017 — and I admit, I did — well, we were both wrong.
The number of podcast listeners continues to grow rapidly, according to industry research. Current estimates project the U.S. podcast audience to reach 100 million by 2024. The largest group of regular podcast listeners falls in the 12-34 age bracket, but podcast listening is growing fastest among Americans over the age of 55.
As of October 2022, there are 2.5 million podcasts to choose from. While comedy and true crime are the most popular genres, research shows podcast listeners are not just seeking entertainment. They also crave learning.
Midsouth ag podcasting
For agriculturally inclined listeners, there are a plethora of farming podcasts to choose from. And if I may make a plug, consider Around Farm Progress, a weekly podcast where Farm Progress editors from across the nation discuss issues impacting agriculture and take a deeper look at some of the stories in our magazines.
But back to ag podcasts in general … for listeners looking for information – not just entertainment — that is specific to row crop production in the Midsouth … well, land-grant university extension podcasts may be the best bet.
Mississippi State University started the Crop Situation podcast back in 2018. As Jason Bond, MSU Extension Weed Specialist, recalled, the idea came from Ellen Graves, a social media specialist in MSU’s Ag Communications Department.
A handful of specialists began recording a weekly podcast on different topics that spring. By summer, a full-fledged studio at the Delta Research and Extension Center was in the works. Mississippi Crop Situation has since released more than 160 episodes.
“I think there is a group of people who are more and more difficult to reach,” said Tom Allen, MSU crop pathologist, who, along with Bond, serves as primary co-host of the podcast. “They’re not going to come to field days, they are not going to read a blog. But it’s our job to provide them information and we continue to look for ways to stay relevant to our audience.”
Bond says feedback from listeners has been positive.
“One thing we’ve tried to do from the start is have this be a conversation, not a presentation,” Bond said. “I think listening to a good discussion on a topic is more impactful than reading a formal article for many people.”
La., Ark., Mo., podcasts
Back in 2018, LSU AgCenter agents Kylie Miller, Dennis Burns and R.L. Frazier were also looking for alternative ways to reach an increasingly disconnected audience.
“We understand that people are busy, and we want to be their connection to get the answers they need in whatever format they want,” Miller said. “Not only do we want to share important information, but we also want to make it as convenient as possible for those in the community.”
The agents started the Louisiana Delta Crop Report podcast to stay in touch with producers in northeastern Louisiana. The semi-weekly podcast has released more than 100 episodes. Miller said growers have benefited from the timely information provided in the podcast.
“Whenever we see something going on in the field with insect pests, we can interview one of our scientists, then we can make it available to the growers without them having to stop and attend a meeting,” she said.
“When a grower knows that he has one day to get something done before a rain, he won’t think much about a field day or a meeting until he gets it done,” said Bruce Garner, LSU AgCenter Extension agent, who joined Louisiana Delta Crop Report Team this year.
Similarly, University of Arkansas launched Row Crops Radio in 2019 to provide timely information and resources for Arkansas row crop producers. In 2021, a Weeds AR Wild series was added. The weekly update on weed management issues is hosted by Division of Agriculture experts, including Extension weed scientists Tommy Butts and Tom Barber and Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Jason Norsworthy.
“As the year goes on, if we’re getting a lot of phone calls on a particular topic, we’ll do a segment on that issue,” Butts said. “With a podcast, we have the flexibility to discuss issues that our growers and producers are experiencing in real-time.”
New this year, University of Missouri crop specialists launched MO Crops Podcast, a bi-monthly, half-hour program, for growers in the Missouri Bootheel region. Hosted by Justin Calhoun, Justin Chlapecka and Bradley Wilson, soils, rice and cotton specialists, respectively, MO Crops episodes are released every other Thursday.
About the Author(s)
Ginger Rowsey joined Farm Press in 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience in agricultural communications. Her previous experiences include working in marketing and communications with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. She also worked as a local television news anchor with the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Tennessee.
Rowsey grew up on a small beef cattle farm in Lebanon, Tennessee. She holds a degree in Communications from Middle Tennessee State University and an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She now resides in West Tennessee with her husband and two daughters.
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