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Greg Martin 09/12/05 America`s Heartland, Part one
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: September 12, 2005

It was at the recent Farm Progress Show in Illinois that a debut occurred. Various members of the ag community, curious citizens, and sponsors were on hand to watch the premiere episode of a new television series. Americas Heartland is produced by television station KVIE in Sacramento California. At the Farm Progress Show with his baby was Executive Producer Jim ODonnell.

ODONNELL: We after a fundraising period successfully brought together Monsanto and the American Farm Bureau Federation who are sponsoring the show, and making it possible for us to create twenty episodes that are debuting this fall on public television.

The purpose of Americas Heartland is to tell the story of agriculture by celebrating those people who make the ag lifestyle and industry happen. ODonnell says the format of Americas Heartland is based on a very successful formula.

ODONNELL: We for eight years produced an extremely popular show called California Heartland with over 400 episode and 2,000 different feature stories did exactly the same thing that were doing now with Americas Heartland. We went out and reconnected the non-farm audience with the people that create from the land, and showed them where their food comes from.

California Heartland was so popular that even California metro markets like L.A. and San Francisco ran the show on local P.B.S. affiliates to positive feedback from viewers.

ODONNELL: I think our biggest surprise and it was a pleasant one was that the non farm audience raced to this show. California Heartland at its peak was seen by more than a million viewers a week and the popularity was at its highest in non-farm urban markets.

With a two year commitment from sponsors, numerous P.B.S. affiliate stations and public t.v. systems cleared to run the show starting this fall, and a big push of support from the farm community, Americas Heartland has the makings of being a major p.r. tool in telling the positive story of agriculture to the masses. But even before the first episode aired, there was already a push to keep the show from even airing on P.B.S. affiliate stations.

ODONNELL: These groups are extremely fringy and had been absolutely unwilling to communicate with us before or after the protest.

What that was all about, and why it has not made a dent in the efforts of producers of Americas Heartland to gain markets and potential viewers, is discussed in our next program.

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