National Ag Broadcaster Mike Adams to Present Monmouth College’s Wiswell-Robeson Lecture


Based in Jacksonville, Illinois, nationally syndicated farm broadcaster Mike Adams has been to Monmouth many times.

His next trip to the Maple City will be to present Monmouth College’s annual Wiswell-Robeson Lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 in Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

“I want to chat about how things have changed regarding ag media and how things have changed in the general media,” said Adams, who recently retired after 48 years in broadcasting. He hosted the nationally syndicated radio program AgriTalk for two decades. “I’ll talk about the challenges I see and the importance of our role in ag media to be able to shape thoughts and opinions about agriculture.”

Prior to launching AgriTalk in 2001, Adams had a farm show on Jacksonville’s WLDS-AM for 27 years.

“The main thing I tried to do on the show was reach a mixed audience,” he said. “You had the farmers, who listened to receive help on their operations. And you had rural listeners who didn’t necessarily know what was happening on a farm. I tried to educate both sides and provide a better understanding of both the consumer side and the production side.”

His Wiswell-Robeson Lecture will be more of the same.

“I look forward to the opportunity to discuss some of the important issues facing agriculture and our world today,” said Adams.

One of those issues is how food is produced and brought to market which, until quite recently, was rarely a concern to the general public.

“We’ve taken the way that our food is provided for granted,” he said. “I’ll talk about how those things have affected agriculture and other issues that are important to us all, not just those of us who follow agriculture.”

His rural roots

Adams has been following agriculture since his days working on a farm just outside the tiny Greene County village of Rockbridge, Illinois.

“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I worked on a farm,” he said. “I could step over the fence, and I was on a farm. I did a little bit of everything. It was a grain and livestock farm. I did chores, I fixed fences, I cleaned hog houses, I put up hay. It was a great education for what I eventually wound up doing.”

What he eventually wound up doing is not what he first envisioned.

“I knew I wanted to get into broadcasting,” said Adams, who attended Lewis and Clark Community College in nearby Godfrey.

He soon landed a full-time job at WLDS, where he was a DJ and did play-by-play for high school football and basketball games.

“Then they had a need for someone to work on their farm programming, and I took an interest in it,” he said. “It started to grow, and becoming an ag broadcaster became my full-time job. It was an opportunity I never saw coming at all.”

World traveler

Adams’ national show featured a mix of commentary on agricultural issues and interviews with decision makers, including members of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel and leaders of agricultural organizations. In-depth topics of discussion included the federal Farm Bill, trade and technology. In addition, his program addressed important issues facing rural America such as infrastructure, immigration and health care.

“I never had the goal to get into ag media, but doors opened for me that I never would’ve imagined, and I built relationships that I never would’ve imagined,” said Adams. “One of the big highlights for me was about those relationships and building trust with them, as well as with my listeners. I had an amazing run, traveling around the world and talking about agriculture.”

Adams’ travels have taken him to 11 countries, and he has met five U.S. presidents, Pope John Paul II and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Adams is past president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and recipient of the national Farm Broadcaster of the Year award, among many other accolades in his career.

In his retirement, he is still relying on an open-door policy.

“I’m just going to see what doors open for me,” said Adams, who was a lay minister for a number of years. “I’ll be spending more time with my church, and more time with my grandkids. And I’ve been getting out and doing some public speaking.”

The Wiswell-Robeson Lecture was founded in 2016 through a gift from 1960 Monmouth graduate Jeanne Gittings Robeson of Monmouth. The lecture’s purpose is to annually feature a speaker from the agriculture community who explores issues, challenges and innovations in the industry. Robeson and her late husband, Don Robeson, who was a 1954 Monmouth graduate, operated their farm in Warren County.

***Courtesy of Barry McNamara, Monmouth College***

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