CAMDENTON, MO., Dec. 31, 2014 -- Nearly 35 years ago, Denny Banister took to the radio airwaves with his first market report for the Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB). On Dec. 31, he delivered his last report.
It seems broadcasting runs through Banister’s veins. He began his on-air career volunteering for the college radio station when he was a student at Central Missouri State University, now University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. After college, he worked in commercial radio, then served with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.
Back in commercial radio after his time in service, Banister began some ag reporting. A few years after he started with MOFB, he began delivering market reports.
Banister has been the voice of commodity prices for the state’s farmers ever since – continuing to report on the market four times a day, five days a week, even after he retired full-time from his position as assistant director of public affairs for MOFB in 2011. He also prepared reports radio stations could air on Saturdays and Sundays.
Farming has changed since Banister first took to the air. “Back in the day,” farm families ate breakfast with the radio on, and farmers listened again when they came in from the field at the noon hour and at the close of markets.
With today’s 24-hour news cycle and commodity prices available in real-time on smart phones, the way farmers keep up with commodity prices has changed. They haven't stopped listening to farm radio in their tractors and trucks, though. Banister believes it’s because of trust. “It’s still a very close relationship farmers have with radio and their farm broadcasters,” Banister said.
What scares Banister the most about changes in agriculture is the loss of prime farm land to development. “The land that’s most desirable for development is also the most productive for agriculture,” Banister says. He worries that “someday, we’ll regret that.”
Banister is looking forward to changes of his own. He can sleep a little later and he won’t have to watch the clock to make sure he doesn’t miss his airtime. He says the “only barrows and gilts at his breakfast table will be in the form of sausage and bacon.”
What won’t change, though, is the attention Banister pays to the numbers that matter to the nation’s farmers. You can take the market broadcaster away from the mic, but you can’t muffle his ear for corn prices.
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