Random Read

Fabulous Farm Babe Pam Jahnke is a Bold Voice for Wisconsin Agriculture {excerpt}

On a soggy spring morning Pam Jahnke greets me from the top of the stairs at Mid-West Family Broadcasting's west-side office. A broken foot bone makes walking up and down steps painful for her. Her tennis shoes are loosely laced. "Boot cast?" I suggest, having fractured a few metatarsals myself, and she scoffs at the idea. Despite her handicap, we race-walk through a tour of the building that houses the company's seven radio stations. Her voice booms down the hall as she describes each station's format and shouts greetings to pals. "Loud" is the first word most people use to describe her.

At the end of the tour we stop to talk in Jahnke's small office, which doubles as a studio. A microphone and mixing board dominate her desk, and a TV camera and monitor sit on a shelf on the opposite wall. A corner table holds a stack of seemingly neglected plaques and certificates. Occasionally she pauses our conversation to swivel around and record a midday broadcast, never relying on notes, never restarting or editing what she recorded.

For almost 25 years, Jahnke -- a.k.a. the Fabulous Farm Babe -- has been a distinctive, authoritative voice for Wisconsin agriculture. Her broadcasts air on 17 radio stations across the state and on Madison's WISC-TV. They vary in length from 30 seconds to an hour. They cover daily commodity prices as well as new developments in seed genetics or farm equipment. She tailors her delivery to the listening audience. For a station whose format is "hot country," she increases her tempo and exaggerates her inflection, giving "Warm weather around the Midwest has the trade on edge!" the same vigor that another host might use to announce, "Kimye tied the knot in Florence last week!"