Hergert joins National Farm Broadcasting Hall of Fame
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Mike Hergert started out as a disc jockey and sportscaster. What he calls a "lateral move" into a job that included a bit of farm broadcasting has led him to the National Farm Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Mike Hergert started out as a disc jockey and sportscaster. What he calls a “lateral move” into a job that included a bit of farm broadcasting has led him to the National Farm Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
“It was a shock,” he says of first learning of his induction. “Even in your most optimistic moments, you think maybe someday when I’m old and retired, maybe somebody will remember and think I was worthy. But I never, ever thought this would come at this point.”
He says he accepts the honor on behalf of the farmers and others involved in agriculture with whom he works.
Hergert, director of the Grand Forks-based Red River Farm Network, was inducted into the hall Nov. 12 during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s annual conference in Kansas City. He talked with Agweek before his induction.
Ron Hays of Radio Oklahoma Network was also inducted into the Hall of Fame with Hergert.
Established in 1996, the hall has 61 members with the addition of Hergert and Hays. The association’s website describes its members as “leaders” and “powerful advocates in the field of agriculture.”
Hergert is well known in his profession - he was 2007 National Farm Broadcaster of the Year and 2001 president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.
His voice is familiar to agriculturalists across the Upper Midwest, particularly in eastern North Dakota, western Minnesota and northeast South Dakota. The Red River Farm Network can be heard on 19 affiliated stations in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.
His face is familiar to area agriculturalists, too. Besides covering ag events, he often moderates panel discussions at area farm shows.
Because the scope of U.S. ag extends overseas, Hergert has traveled to a dozen foreign countries through the years. He recently returned from Cuba, which he visited as part of a North Dakota trade mission. He also went to the island country, which is trying to shake off a half century of Communist control, in 2002.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for Cubans,” Hergert says. “I think they’ve been put under a thumb since 1959 (when Communists seized power). I personally think it’s time to end the (U.S. trade) embargo and let these people experience what the rest of the world knows, and create some of their own opportunities. I hope I live long enough to see it happen.”
Hergert - who grew up on a hobby farm near St. Peter, Minn., and practiced shooting a basketball while broadcasting imaginary games every day after school - wanted to be a sportscaster.
His first professional gig was in Preston, Minn., where he served as a radio disc jockey during the day and covered high school basketball and football games at night. His career goal was “finding the next big full-time sports job. But I just couldn’t land it,” he says.
So he made a lateral move to a radio station in Albert Lea, Minn., where he covered city hall meetings and also did a little farm broadcasting.
“All I needed to know was knowing how to read the South St. Paul markets,” he says. “From that point (in 1978), I became more and more involved in farm broadcasting,” a journey that led him to co-found the Red River Farm Network in 1995.
‘Not out to pasture yet’
Hergert says he enjoys his work as much as ever.
“The greatest thing about this job is the people I meet,” he says. “People in ag are the best, bar none. What also keeps me going is being able to make a difference in the bottom line of their business.”
Even so, Hergert, 65, wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“I have a plan. I’ll work full time for another year, then work in some lesser capacity,” he says, though he isn’t uncertain yet what that new role will be.
Whatever the future holds, his hall of fame induction doesn’t mark the end of his career.
“I’m not out to pasture yet,” Hergert says.