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Oral History Podcasts

Following are the first seven audio podcasts in this series.  Recorded during October 2008, they feature the experiences and perspectives of two long-time ACE members:

K. Robert Kern: 1965-66 president of ACE and 1984 recipient of the ACE Professional Award, highest recognition given by the organization to one of its members.

Jim Evans: Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Communications, University of Illinois, and 1994 recipient of the ACE Professional Award.


Bob Kern – Past (41 minutes)

In this podcast he recalls the growth and contributions of ACE in connection with his own career, beginning in the early 1950s.  He comments on developments in the role and work of communicators in land-grant institutions.

  • Trends toward a broadening role from agricultural editing toward that of communicating more strategically and across a widening agenda.
  • Experimentation with the "departmental editor" approach in Extension, beginning in the 1950s.
  • Development of ACE programming. Emergence of regional and local activities to enhance the national focus of ACE.
  • Origin, activities and contributions of the National Project in Agricultural Communications (NPAC).  Description of NPAC personnel and activities. Follow-up efforts by ACE during the 1970s.

Bob Kern – International (10 minutes)

In this podcast he offers thought about international aspects of the ACE history and agenda, including:

  • Identification of some early ACE members who worked abroad on various communications projects.
  • Development of the International Special Interest Group of ACE.
  • Recent efforts of ACE retirees to interact with each other through a new online network, and with other ACE members.
  • Contributions of ACE members and agricultural information units working on international fronts.
  • Suggestion that ACE establish a "Memorable ACEers" resource that recognizes past presidents and others who have contributed in special ways through their careers.

Bob Kern – Biography (39 minutes)

In this podcast he traces his professional path from 1941 through a "third retirement" in 2002, including:

  • His education and professional experience.
  • His first contact with ACE.
  • His first international experience; "catching the international bug."
  • International positions and consulting activities following his "first" retirement from Iowa State University and until his "third" retirement in 2002.  Efforts in 46 countries, totaling more than one million miles of travel.
  • Noted spread of instruction in agricultural journalism and communications at universities throughout the nation during his career.  
  • Noted value of efforts to apply the behavioral sciences as part of the agricultural communicator's work.  Emphasis on the central role of journalism in the education of agricultural communicators.
  • Persons who had great influence on his thinking.

Jim Evans - Past (14 minutes)

In this podcast he responds to questions about these topics:

  • Major changes and challenges in commercial farm publishing, farm broadcasting, public relations, advertising and other sectors of agricultural journalism and communications during his career
  • Changes and challenges he has seen in research communications and extension activities of agriculture colleges and government agencies such as the U. S. Department of Agriculture
  • How the fields of journalism and communications have changed most during his career
  • Strengths of agricultural communications services and academic programming at the University of Illinois across the years
  • Some major challenges that have confronted communications services and academic programming in agricultural communications at the University of Illinois

Jim Evans - Present (10 minutes)

In this podcast he responds to questions about these topics:

  • Recent trends he has seen  in agricultural journalism and communications
  • Relationships between agricultural communications and the parent disciplines of journalism and mass communications
  • Relationships between the disciplines of agricultural communications and agricultural education
  • Perspectives on shifts from journalism to the  public relations and marketing communications aspects of agricultural communications

Jim Evans - Future (12 minutes)

In this podcast he responds to questions about these topics:

  • Kinds of scholarship and research most needed in agricultural journalism and communications
  • Advice to young persons who are entering this career field
  • Advice to faculty members who work with academic programs in agricultural journalism and communications
  • Views on the future of the academic program in agricultural communications at the University of Illinois
  • Views on the future roles and potentials of agricultural journalism and communications 
  • Views on the future of teaching, research and outreach in agricultural journalism and communications

Jim Evans - Biography (10 minutes)

In this podcast he responds to questions about these topics:

  • His education
  • His professional experience
  • What he considers to be key accomplishments in agricultural journalism and communications during his career
  • Important sources of influence on him, professionally, during his career

Explore the Oral Histories