This Week in Louisiana Agriculture
Before grilling machines, get-rich-quick real estate programs and swimsuit models hawking weight loss gadgets, early morning television in Louisiana was dominated by farm programming.
On Sept. 22, 1981 This Week in Louisiana Agriculture signed on the air with CBS affiliate WAFB-TV 9 in Baton Rouge. It aired at 5:30 am, immediately following the national anthem, which was preceded by the test pattern. Within a year the 30-minute farm program, produced by the public relations department of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, was on three more stations, KNOE-TV 8 in Monroe, KALB-TV 5 in Alexandria and KATC-TV 3 in Lafayette. By 1984 Shreveport station KTAL-TV 6 picked up the program, followed by KPLC-TV 7 in 1986.
Today This Week In Louisiana Agriculture, the creation of former Louisiana Farm Bureau PR Director and This Week In Louisiana Agriculture host Regnal Wallace, is seen on five broadcast stations, three cable affiliates, a webcast and on RFD-TV. The program is one of the longest-running television programs produced in Louisiana. Next year This Week In Louisiana Agriculture celebrates its 25th anniversary.
"Our program has changed over the years but the mission has remained the same," said Michael Danna, host of This Week In Louisiana Agriculture. "We want viewers to know how important agriculture is in their daily lives. Even if you're not a farmer, our program probably has something that will interest you." Produced at its studios at the Louisiana Farm Bureau state office in Baton Rouge, This Week In Louisiana Agriculture airs 52-weeks a year. Weekly topics include regular features like its "ISG," or in-studio guest segment, weekly crop production updates and livestock prices.
Each week producers Bill Sherman, A.J. Sabine, along with host Michael Danna, travel the state seeking out farm news. Sherman and Sabine both came to This Week In Louisiana Agriculture from secular news, while Danna got his start as a newspaper reporter. "We're pretty much one-man-bands," said Sherman, who edits the show each Thursday. "We each go out and shoot, write and edit our own packages. With just three of us working on the program we've each got to be somewhere in the state getting news each week."
"As the name implies, we work hard to get as many Louisiana packages in the program as possible each week," he continued. "Good shows are when we have three packages with maybe a voice over thrown in."
Over the years, the show's content has moved beyond just row crop production updates to include environmental, legislative and consumer issues. The program was cited recently by a member of the state's Senate Ag Committee as a "video lesson on the importance of agriculture."