Better Than Nuthin

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.


May 20, 2023 30 mins

Russ Green was an Iowa kid who made his way to the top of the Ag Equipment Industry.  Upon Retirement, he didn't slow down.  He turned his attention to helping the youth and young professionals develop themselves and their businesses.

A fascinating speaker and a sincere leader.  He's still the kind of person I'd like to see in charge of corporate America.

A half hour that will inspire 4-H members and retired farmers.

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Gene Millard has observed many years as a farmer.  He has keen powers of observation and even greater ability to explain and express how a farm in NW Missouri should operate.  

We talk technology that has become very complex and we talk human emotions that are just like they always have been.

He explains the reality of why he put up three wind towers on his farm:  "Just another crop." is the short summary.  But, of course, there is...

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April 27, 2023

The Mississippi River is near the crest of a historic flood.  All along the river, homes are flooded including their septic systems and wells.

Patti Ruff is the Clayton County, Iowa Sanitarian.  She is quite familiar with the impact of high water on wells and septic systems.  

The interview runs about ten minutes.   Very informative if you are worried about your water when you return to the islands. 

Ken Root

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George is a lawyer and a historian but he loves radio.  A great news voice of WHO for years.

We talk of the early days and then we jump to the characters who influenced the business.  KMA plays prominently along with WNAX.  

I couldn't resist leading him into WKRP and how it seemed like a documentary to those of us in the business.

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Doug Spyrison is wealth of knowledge about AM Radios going back to the 1920's.  He explains designs, tube count, tube rarity and the progress of development through the 1960's when transistors revolutionized electronics.  

He also describes what will be sold at the Iowa Antique Radio and Historical Society Club Auction (IARCHS) at 10 am on May 6 in Anamosa, Iowa.  I've been to the event and it is a great learning experience but you...

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The Kansas City Southern Railroad will merge with the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  They are the smallest two members of the Class 1 Railroad Club.  Steenhoek, in his position with the Soy Transportation Alliance, sorts out the reasons the merger was allowed and the first Mexico to Canada ownership of a single railroad.


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March 16, 2023 28 mins

Rich Keller is a quiet, mild mannered, retired public relations professional.  But in the last few years, he has been posting on Facebook that his solo vacations have been in strange places.  

Mexico, Central and South America seem to lure him but he stays in sections of cities that most of us consider unsafe.  "No," say Rich, as he describes the kind and colorful people he has met.  "I don't speak Spanish but I get along just fine...

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In 1999, AgriTalk devoted a program to the status of tobacco farming in the face of a multi-state settlement with cigarette companies to pay for health related damages caused by smoking.  

Tobacco farmers were going to lose much of their market in places where tobacco had been grown (legally) for four hundred years.  The total Master Settlement Agreement was over 200 billion dollars but growers feared none of that would come to the...

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February 21, 2023 42 mins

Should U.S. farmers look at land investment in Africa?  

That was the premise of a two week trip to look at land in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.  My travel companions were Maurice Clark, an investor and business partner of Steve Bruere, President of The People's Company.  Also Michael McClean, videographer.   We were escorted by Susan Payne and Koos DeKlerk, from Britain and South Africa who were working with a corporation ...

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January 27, 2023 25 mins

Major car companies have announced that they will not put AM radios in their electric Vehicles (EV's).  The stated reason is electrical interference. 

My guests beg to differ.  Brian Winnikens is owner of WRDN in Durand, Wisconsin and Gene Millard was manager of KFEQ in St Joseph, Missouri.  Both stations are AM.  Their arguments are about past value and future threat.  Millard is somewhat resigned to his fate, Winnikens is not.  H...

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December 22, 2022 34 mins

Last summer, I traveled to Great Bend, Kansas and spent three days reporting on Industrial Hemp.  You can find in 2 podcast from mid year.  The Baldwin family has been growing the crop since 2017 and holding this conference each year to explain how they support growers who want to sign a contract with them to deliver the crop the following fall.

Melissa Nelson-Baldwin remains their spokesperson and a leader in the agronomics of thi...

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December 15, 2022 34 mins

Dan plays two songs and talks about his determination to write country music. He brings a lot of guitar skill to the table and a family history that is rock solid.

We swap stories but they all tie together.

He has written a song called: "Sara Gets A Second Chance"  It is about waiting for an organ transplant.  Very moving.  It just takes one miracle.

To download the song:

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In 1981, Mike Smith founded a private weather forecasting service that soon became computer based in its single location forecast distribution.  He enjoyed strong popularity as a television meteorologist beginning in the 1970's at Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, then Wichita, Kansas, St. Louis and back to Wichita where he started Weatherdata.  

Smith testified, as an expert witness, in a trial following the crash of United Flight 191 a...

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November 28, 2022 35 mins

The Saturday Morning Farmers Market in downtown Des Moines, Iowa is unbelievable.  Twenty Five Thousand People stroll through the blocks and blocks of vendors who are selling everything from fresh produce to baked goods to breakfast burritos, to art and specialties.  Musicians are on every corner and the atmosphere is stimulating and soothing all at once.

Kelly Foss was the Executive Director of the market for twenty years.  She an...

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November 18, 2022 29 mins

Dennis Schneider and his son were unloading a bin that had clumps of corn that would only come out if someone went in with a shovel and broke the crust.  

Dennis had a "master plan" to use his cell phone to call son if he got in trouble.  His son was in control of the large auger outside.  When Dennis slid down into the corn, he couldn't call before he was trapped to his neck.

His rescue took anxious hours as he struggled to breath...

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This story is current and unabashedly Pro Life. It comes from my encounter with a lady from Iowa City who spoke to a men's religious organization about the need to fund a clinic for "Abortion Minded" women.  

Rachel Owen is fearless and remains determined to offer choices to women in crisis.

She highlights the impact of changes in laws and medicine that are reducing the opportunities to develop a relationship with women who have an...

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, led a small delegation to Baghdad in 2006.  It was during the very stormy period following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein Regime.

I was the only reporter in the delegation as we flew from Washington, D.C, to Turkey and then boarded a C-17 cargo plane for Baghdad.  The visit was only one day but it was memorable with three attacks on the U.S.  Embassy where we were implementing an agree...

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October 20, 2022 28 mins

He has been the Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture since 2008, a veterinarian since the late 1970's and a smart, articulate bundle of energy.

We talk about crops in his home state.  Learn more about sugar than you want to know.  We discuss the challenges for farmers.  He's on it.

There is talk that Dr Strain might be a future U.S. Secretary of Agriculture or seek elected office above his current pay grade.  He is a delightful co...

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Mike Smith was doing prime time weather on WKY-TV in Oklahoma City when he was a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma.  His skill was obvious but his plans for the future were even greater.   Smith founded WeatherData, a company that predicted severe weather for corporate America.  He has stopped trains to let a tornado pass. He has told manufacturers whether they should keep working or take shelter.  

Smith's fifty year career ...

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October 16, 2022 25 mins

I revisit one of my favorite characters. Gene Millard has managed radio stations and served on boards of farmer owned ethanol and grain cooperatives but he loves farming above all else.

On October 15, Gene and his sons finished corn harvest in Northeast Missouri and he began to send out observations of the season and the harvest.  I caught him as he was physically recovering from days of hard work, for a man of any age, and a few m...

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