Farm broadcaster Bob Meyer headed into WBA Hall of Fame
LOYAL, Wis. – Bob Meyer combined his farm background with a talent for public speaking to become one of Wisconsin’s most recognizable and effective voices for agriculture during a 30-year radio career that has earned him a place in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame gallery.
Raised on a dairy farm 1 mile west of Loyal, Meyer was the youngest of 9 children that included 8 boys. “ We had 32 stalls in our old barn, and I milked a lot of cows in my day,” he recalled. “My brother owns the farm now and his son is in the process of purchasing it, making him the third generation of the family to own the farm.”
In grade school Meyer discovered that he enjoyed public speaking. “I went to St. Anthony’s Grade School in Loyal and participated in a public speaking contests that got me interested in radio,” he said. “I also participated in 4-H and FFA speaking contests.”
After graduating from Brown Institute of Broadcasting in Minneapolis, Meyer started working the nightshift at WDLB-AM in Marshfield. “When I left three years later I was working the afternoon shift.”
He spent the next eight years away from the microphone working for his father-in-law as retail manager at Smith Feed Service in Loyal.
Back to the airwaves
Jack Hackman was general manager at the Marshfield station. “He would call periodically to see if I was interested in coming back to radio,” said Meyer. “In 1986 I did, and I stayed there until 2016.”
Shortly after returning to WDLB, Meyer began working the morning shift that led to a long relationship with Les Leonard and his career as a farm broadcaster.
“Les would cover events like Farm Progress Days (now Wisconsin Farm Technology Days). Some of the other Goetz stations in the Midwest would ask Les if he could do some reports for them as well, which was the unofficial start of the Goetz Farm Radio Network. Then he started doing reports from World Dairy Expo and other events,” Meyer said.
“As the network grew, we started offering a daily program called Daybreak from 5 until 6 a.m. which was carried by 14 stations across Wisconsin,” Meyer explained. Eventually, he succeeded Leonard as the network’s lead ag reporter, becoming farm director in 1991.
In 2003, the Goetz Farm Radio Network, which focused on Wisconsin agriculture, was acquired by Learfield Communications and became part of Brownfield Ag News. “Then I was one of 10 farm broadcasters covering 10 states, and I traveled a lot more outside of Wisconsin.”
After retiring from daily farm broadcasts, Meyer said: “The part of the job I missed the most is the people I met all across the spectrum.” Although he never interviewed a U.S. president during his three decades in radio, Meyer did interview a vice-president and several U.S. secretaries of agriculture. “I also interviewed several popular sports figures, which was one of the added benefits of the job.”
Beyond the broadcasts
In addition to thousands of radio broadcasts, Meyer also has emceed numerous ag-related events over the years, including four Alice-in-Dairyland finals. He also served on the Alice selection committee one year. “I’ll be emceeing this year’s Alice banquet in Walworth County,” he noted.
Meyer has hosted several Fairest of the Fairs events and served on the selection committee. He continues to maintain his long affiliation with FFA and has covered many of the organization’s conventions.
“Several years ago my niece was a state FFA officer and she asked me to introduce the officers at the sessions, and I’ve been doing it every year since at the state convention,” he said. His continued support of the FFA earned him the Honorary American FFA Degree.
Over the years he has served as chair of the publicity committee for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days several times, including the 2022 event, at which he also emceed the opening ceremonies. “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in several successful shows over the years,” he said. “ I’ve had a lot of unique opportunities and I’ve been happy to help out.”
Hall of Fame honors
On June 15, Meyer will join 156 legends of Wisconsin radio and television broadcasting during induction ceremonies of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at the WBA 2023 Summer Conference at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.
This year’s other inductees are: Al Lancaster, Dr. Jonathan Overby and Joanne Williams. The event also includes a video highlighting the careers of each inductee.
The Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame was created in 1989 to honor broadcasters who have devoted a minimum of 15 years to the broadcasting industry including a minimum of 10 years as a Wisconsin broadcaster. The award recognizes an individual’s history of exemplary leadership in community and statewide service as a broadcast professional.
Meyer says being inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame is a great honor – an honor he shares with his predecessor at the Goetz Farm Radio Network, Les Leonard, who was inducted in 1992. “I’m actually the ninth person from Goetz Broadcasting to be inducted, which speaks to the high caliber of the team we had,” he said.
“I am fortunate to have been a part of the Wisconsin agriculture community and the community of agriculture reporters who tell the story of agriculture honestly, with a credibility that’s unquestioned, and I think that’s something we don’t see as much of in today’s general media. The traditional farm papers and broadcasters remain a very relevant and important voice for Wisconsin agriculture,” said Meyer.