People In The Know

People In The Know

Welcome to ”People in the Know,” a podcast hosted by Ken Root. Join us on a journey where Ken, with his knack for asking pertinent questions, engages with colorful and passionate guests. Prepare for an enjoyable listening experience as we dive into the depths of the human spirit, exploring the lives of those who embrace obscurity and find joy in it. Discover inspiring stories and unique perspectives on ”People in the Know.”


June 28, 2024 33 mins

The extreme flooding in Western Iowa and downstream has caused great difficulty in the region.  What impact does this have on farmers who haul or ship their crops to domestic and international customers?

Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of Soy Transportation Council is Ken's guest.

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Dr Val Farmer has retired from an illustrious career as a clinic psychologist.  He specialized in the life struggles of those who lived in rural America.  He continues to be an outspoken advocate for the human spirit and a long time friend of mine.

We decided to try and talk about religion and politics in a civil and constructive manner.  You decide.

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Warnings by Weather Forecasters and Government have saved countless lives since the beginning of the 20th Century.  That is a given.  But the public is quick to blame the forecasters for their mistakes or the interruption of their favorite TV shows.

Ken talks with Mike Smith, a noted meteorologist who has forecast weather for the past fifty years.  Smith also wrote a book called "Warnings" that highlights the need for government to...

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Jackie Listen's Book is titled: "A Place Called Through"

He is from Oklahoma and talks of his rural upbringing, his mentors and the struggles of being a land developer in the 1980's.

He moved to being a banker for 30 years and now is "Refired" in his determination to be a helper to others who are trying to make their way through life.

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Orion Samuelson is known by more farmers and city dwellers than any farm broadcaster in the last one hundred years of radio and television.  He is doing well and passes this milestone with dignity and grace.  

I do not talk directly to him but a few excerpts of his voice are heard.  I mainly focus on what he has meant to the people of Chicago and all farmers and ranchers in the United States.

A few twists and turns in his career sh...

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This could be weird but aren't we all weird for something?

Frogs and Toads make noise.  They "sing" so they can be monitored and their populations estimated if you are willing to take a clipboard and sneak around puddles and wetlands at night.  Fun, Heh?

Serious business for my guest: Stephanie Shepherd with Iowa DNR.

Yes, I made it a bit fun....make a bullfrog your friend and drink some of his wine.

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March 15, 2024 28 mins

Davis Horton has fished all 99 counties of Iowa.  It was a determined three year adventure that he documented.,  In the process he caught the state record Spotted Bass on a fly rod.  He caught fifty-eight species of fish.

One deer tried to assassinate him but only killed his truck.

He made many friends and has lots of stories and tips that he is documenting in a handbook....


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Rich Balvanz and I started our farm broadcasting careers within two months of each other, back in 1974.  He spent most of his broadcasting career at WMT Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   

He left broadcasting and founded a Farm Commodities Company as the new century began and later became an Ordained Lutheran Minister.  He just retired from that vocation.

We talk about the ups and downs in agriculture, our good and challenging experie...

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No one was hurt in the recording of this podcast.  Nothing crazy was done.

An agronomist planted a test strip of soybeans in February and a Des Moines Sweet Corn Grower speculates on planting in March.

Agriculture may be more prepared to exploit a warmer climate than you know.

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Iowa is a very productive state.  It ranks second to California in total gross sales of agricultural products.  I spoke with Greg Thiessen, USDA State Statistician for Iowa.  We examine the number of farms, farmers, expansion of broadband, increase in use of cover crops, technology and other measures.

They all reveal that farming is big business in Iowa but conducted mostly by family units who attempt to keep the farm in the family...

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Deloss Jahnke works for the Illinois RFD Radio Network.  He travelled to Brazil's major agricultural regions for ten days in January of this year.

I speak with him about the infrastructure of the region and the farms that dwarf the size of ours in the Midwest.

A wonderful dialogue with an up and coming young farm broadcaster.

Deloss is currently National Vice President of the NAFB Organization.


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February 5, 2024 38 mins

I am very sad to lose Bill Northey from this world.  He was a farmer, a commodity organization leader, an elected official in Iowa and served as an :Undersecretary of Agriculture in Washington.

I spoke to him in 2022 as he was the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, based in Des Moines.


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Chad Dolan is a Fisheries Management Biologist for Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  He and I converse about the interaction of land use with water quality. He believes farmers and developers have a growing appreciation for the value of clean water by using best management practices.



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Gene is "Mr Spreadsheet" when he looks at his farming operation.  He recites real numbers from their farm for 2023 and some averages from 2010 to this year.  

He also loves the land and greatly appreciates people who farm it.

We talk winter, livestock, 2023 corn and soybean crops, grain marketing, grain prices along with crop rent and wind towers.

Not bad for 27 minutes.

Thanks for listening       let me know what you think    kenr...

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Once again, I am honored to offer this interview with Ambassador Kenneth Quinn.  He moves that past history of agricultural science to the future as he describes his work in Vietnam in the 1960's and praises Dr. Norman Bourlaug's work through his long life.  

Not political, not even philosophical, this discussion takes the lessons of the past and offers them as solutions to problems of the present and challenges of the future.


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January 12, 2024 28 mins

Cuba has been a pariah in the world of nations since the Cuban missile crisis of the early 1960's.  There are many reasons why Cuba has not been released from trade sanctions but none of them seem to be worth the anger from the Ex Patriot Cuban Community in the United States or special interests who lobby Congress.

Chuck Offenberger has a long history as a journalist and as a traveler.  He visited the island nation a few years ago ...

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The "Cow that stole Christmas" is well remembered by my guests.  Ms. Harrison was Communications Director for US Ag Secretary, Ann Veneman.  Peter Shinn was the News Manager for the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.

We talk through the events that calmed down the public and informed livestock producers of the threat of BSE in their food and economic damage to the marketplace.  Alisa cites the personal emotions of the ranch...

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December 20, 2023 36 mins

Jim Ross was a farm news broadcaster when I first met him in the 1970's.  He was on KMA Radio in Southwest Iowa.

Jim was given up for adoption as an infant.  He was adopted by the Lightfoot family and given his new name:  Jim Ross Lightfoot. 

He became a U.S. Congressman from Iowa in 1984 and served a full decade in the House of Representatives.

We talk of his life experiences.  Jim tells some amazing true stories.  Enjoy.

His Book...

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December 15, 2023 31 mins

Captain Dustin Smith knows sharks.  He, and his customers, fish in the surf off the east coast of Florida.  Day or night, the expeditions into the Atlantic Ocean, take place on shore.  The sharks are tagged and released.  Captain Dustin is concerned about the welfare of sharks and people.  He also dispels some myths about these scary sea creatures.  I was brave enough to ask him questions.  

A remarkable man and wife team who are r...

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A dynamic Kansas Woman has been leading the effort to normalize Hemp as a crop that farmers may grow as an alternative to wheat and other traditional plantings.  Melissa Nelson-Baldwin is a Human Dynamo on a mission.  She farms with her husband and brother in law.  Together, they are this year's Kansas Farm Bureau, Farm Family of the Year.  (that is not an easy title to win)

An update on growing and processing hemp.  It's potential...

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