Better Than Nuthin

Ken Root is at it again! He is unpredictable and biased against both sides. He interviews fascinating people and tells some pretty good stories. BTN is drawn from Ken’s early life on an Oklahoma farm, his fifty years in broadcasting and enchanting people he’s met and kept as friends.

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6 days ago

Russ Green has been an executive with four major agricultural equipment manufacturers. From IHC to Duetz-Allis to Claas to Kubota with many stories of consolidation from AGCO to Deere.  He also loves combines.  Green is literally an encyclopedia of evolution in this dynamic business.  What lies ahead?  He's thought of that too. He hasn't stopped working after taking his last W-2 in 2020.  Green is now advising ag equipment companies and he is paying it forward with a dozen young agricultural entrepreneurs.  A very inspiring and informative man.  

Sunday Sep 11, 2022

Jeffrey Hardeman and I were part of a U.S. delegation of reporters and farmers who were allowed into the USSR in the last years of the cold war.  We produced a TV documentary that is a glimpse of how it was at that time.  It was also the era of Glasnost and Perestroika.  An era defined as "openness and reform".  The last Soviet Premiere, Mikhail Gorbachev, was showing willingness to ease up on the people under his control.  We were, however, handled and watched closely. We were also in Ukraine, a country with immense natural resources and proud people.  They had no idea then that they would be free from Russian dominance in a few years but back under it in a major war in just three decades. The documentary: “Russia: A Kansan’s Perspective” is twenty five minutes long. Here is a link to it on UTube:   Copy and Paste into browser.

Thursday Sep 01, 2022

It is a great day when I can take a microphone and impersonate a farm broadcaster to an unsuspecting group of people who are trapped at a booth with the assigned task of talking seriously to every joker who comes by. I found out what some Agronomy Pros think of the corn crop.  I heard from top people at Corteva and Kubota.  I was very impressed by two young scientists at Iowa State University.  One is working on the Monarch Habitat Program and the other is into a Seed Destructor that is mounted on a combine.  I explored the BIG BANG and how it is about the produce a college graduate.  Also several derogatory comments about the artillery range at Ft Sill, Oklahoma.  Finally, I saw the latest in Agricultural Drone Technology.  No Toys Here!  Wow.  But I also found the man who brought the FAA kicking and screaming into the 21st century on allowing drones to fly.  Amazing how industry out runs government regulations  Transitions are quick...In 46 minutes you can hear what I saw and your feet won't be tired.  

Friday Aug 26, 2022

I have had four joints replaced by Dr. Ian Lin, Orthopedic Surgeon at DMOS in Des Moines.  He is one of my favorite people of all times, for several reasons, but up front because he helped me regain my mobility. Most of my generation is either in need of a joint replacement or has a family member that is hobbling around.  This interview is instructive about the process and the results.  Not too descriptive of the surgery but a realistic view from a man who has done over six thousand knees and a few thousand hips and shoulders.   Dr Lin was born in Iowa and played college baseball at Grinnell before going on to medical school at the University of Iowa and advanced training in North Carolina.  He is the best! A family man.  He has the energy of a Border Collie.   You'll find out why he loves me and hates me at the same time.  

Friday Aug 19, 2022

Curt Blades is with the Agricultural Equipment Manufacturers Association.  His organization puts out monthly statistics that show sales of a range of farm equipment from small to large.   We go back to his first job with Machinery Link and even to AgriShop as the only paid advertiser. (I invented advertising for Death to America Home Computers and Dead Serious Funeral Homes-Franchises Available.)  Our talk is mostly about the disruption of the machinery industry by the 2020 COVID Pandemic.  We project forward to alternative powered vehicles versus diesel.   We project the "Carbon Capture Economy" for agriculture.

Friday Aug 12, 2022

When you consume a steak or hamburger, you are biting into an industry that is as much politics as beef.  It is also a huge part of the rural economy across the plains and cornbelt.   I have known Ron Hays for over forty years.  He is the consummate livestock reporter.  He began as a radio farm broadcaster but his communications platforms are now on radio and internet.  Ron knowns the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) from the inside out.  He also knows the workings of the beef packing industry. We talk about the current drought in the Southern Plains and then wade into the price disparities in cattle and beef prices.  We also explore NCBA politics.  He knows it all and a half hour of your time will give you Ron's take on whether small beef slaughter plants are going to be good for cattle producers and why the politics of the beef industry continue to be like a range war.

Friday Aug 05, 2022

An update on American Fertilizer Companies blocking Moroccan phosphate from being allowed to sell in the U.S. without a tariff. U.S. Farmers are now paying almost $1,000 per ton for Mono Ammonium Phosphate.  Last year it was $300 per ton.   My interview Guest is Kerry McNamara,  CEO of OCP North America.  A well spoken gentleman with a background at the World Bank before entering the fertilizer industry. The issue is more than supply and demand. We talk of demand destruction and of the potential for U.S. farm yields to drop this year and in the future. Meanwhile, that same Moroccan Phosphate is shipped up the Mississippi River to Canadian farmers who do not have to pay a tariff.  

Thursday Jul 28, 2022

Story 1: My father loved to cut trees.  His greatest love was a chain saw.  A man, a tree, a house. Story 2:  My mother's conservative nature almost drowned me. Perhaps stories of my youth will make you feel better about your childhood. Just seventeen minutes this week.

Thursday Jul 14, 2022

The "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is the Indianapolis 500 race each Memorial Sunday.  It is seen by millions on TV but the race is far different when setting with over a quarter million people watching cars so so fast you can't read the numbers on them.  My friend and former employer, Rich Hull, got me hooked on the race back in the 1980's. He has attended twenty-nine times and I have gone with him for about ten.  We went this year for one last time after so many years of preparation and execution of a plan to get to the track, sit in the high bleachers for the race and get home safely.  Our commentary is not official nor is our race coverage thorough.  Marcus Ericsson won the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a thrilling finish, holding off a hard-charging Pato O'Ward following a green-white-checkered finish.  We focused on the color and the history. Rich welcomed me Back Home Again In Indiana.

Tuesday Jul 05, 2022

Linda Cavanaugh recently retired from KFOR-TV.  She is one of my most admired journalists.  We worked together for six years as she and Pam Henry broke the glass ceiling of television news in Oklahoma City.  She won her job in a male dominated era and kept her anchor job until retirement. Linda has seen it all and done it all.  She talks about the people who were the first generation of television journalists and news directors.  We discuss journalistic ethics and the basics of being a good reporter.  She is sharp, frank and open. There are some old home week stories and some moments where she recounts her journalistic work in very challenging circumstances. She pays homage to the leaders in TV news and I talk to her about the "shards in her hair" as she gave women the opportunity to do anything they set their mind to do.  

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