Farm broadcaster inducted into Hall of Fame
Lynn Ketelsen is the classic example of “if you don’t see what you need, then create it.”
He’s also a pretty good example of staying true to your roots.
Ketelsen grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa, one of six kids, doing the work that comes along with livestock and crops.
He attended Iowa State University in Ames, where he picked up degrees in teaching, forestry and English, “then just followed a path that opened doors for me, and that was farm broadcasting,” he said.
Now, 45 years later, that path has led to his induction into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He was recognized Saturday at a ceremony in the Twin Cities with classmates Cathy Wurzer (Minnesota Public Radio); Dan Barreiro (KFAN); Dave Lee (WCCO) and Freddy Bell (KMOJ, in North Minneapolis).
“Sometimes I think the people with the Hall of Fame choose Twin Cities-type personalities, not outstate personalities,” Ketelsen said, “so I tried to take advantage of it and let them know what we do.”
What he’s done is to change the face of farm broadcasting in Minnesota, after starting the Linder Farm Network with the Linder Family in 1977.
“It was a network that was different from what any other ag broadcasters were doing at the time,” Ketelsen said. “I knew we needed to cover the business of agriculture; put prices on the air, put analysis on the air. I went to literally thousands of ag meetings to let people know what we do.”
The network grew from four stations to more than 30, and now has one of the largest farm audiences in the country.
“It was a tough battle, because one Twin Cities station had over 50% market share in the state; we were close to zero,” he said. “You have to be creative. The thought of having a daily market analyst on the air was not something that was done. Now it’s a part of life, but it’s something we came up with, a first in the industry.”
When they started, LFN did weather just for Minnesota, Ketelsen said.
Now, though, “we do weather all over the world and markets all over the world,” he said. “We cover agricultural issues, and as agriculture has evolved into a global agriculture, the way we cover it has evolved. We evolve with the times, but local information is still what it’s all about.”
Every day, Ketelsen does a two-person program with Linda Brekke, of Hartland.
“I’m pretty proud that we were the leaders in that,” Ketelsen said, “giving the opportunity to women to be in farm broadcasting. Linda’s been with us for more than 20 years, and she’s terrific.”
The staff now is about 50% women, he said, including his wife, Mary Ketelsen, who’s been there from the start.
Their son, Matt Ketelsen, oversees the stations, which include another station Ketelsen built: Blooming Prairie Farm Radio, now known as KOWZ; as well as KRUE-92 and KFOW.
In a nod to his degree in education, Ketelsen saw Saturday’s ceremony as a chance to continue to spread the news.
“I’m the first farm broadcaster to ever get in (to the Hall of Fame), so I talked about the fact that agriculture and farmers are different from any other segment in radio,” he said. “I told them their importance as stewards of the land, the water, the soil… “
He hoped they gained a little bit of understanding.
“I try to be someone that’s going to tell their story,” Ketelsen said, “because I believe in it, and there are things that need to be told. We support what they do, because they do such a great job.”