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Voice of the
Story & photos by J. Zane Walley
Article made possible by a grant from the Paragon Foundation
|May the good Lord bless and keep you whether near or far away. May the good you wish for others shine on you today. May your heart be tuned to music that will cheer the hearts of men. May the good Lord bless and keep you until we meet again.|
|Radio talk show host Derry Brownfield recites this to his 20-state
listening audience as Happy Trails sung by Roy Rogers and Dale
Evans fades in and brings his not-so-gentle talk show to an amiable
finish. He pulls his earphones off, swings around with a wrinkled,
countrified smile and says, I always did love Roy and Dale.
Contrary to the close, Derrys show is anything but easygoing. In a booming voice colored by a Midwestern twang he takes on big government, environmental nitwits, crime, the stock market, global government, the United Nations, and anything else that his listeners want to talk about. He hits his audience hard and fast with a one-of-a-kind style that is a combination of his outrageous and politically incorrect opinion intertwined with country humor.
Thats because I am a country boy, he explains. I farmed, ranched and have been involved in agriculture most all my life. You git throwed off enough horses, kicked by a few mules, lose some crops, you learn fast to figure out whats right and what aint.
|His loyal audience thinks Derry is tops. An Indiana listener wrote,
Youve changed my whole outlook on my country. A Nebraska rancher
wrote, If America ever needed a voice of truth next to the word
of God as you are sending it out, it is today. Many of his letters
are addressed to Mr. Citizen Patriot.
Brownfield has a real feel for his audience. Because he ranches and talks to Americans in agriculture every day, he is acutely aware of what they are up against. Today a farmer or rancher goes out to do something on his own land and that upsets the EPA, so they contact the Conservation Department who contacts the Natural Resources Department who brings in some other federal agency and all the while the landowner is paying a $500-a-day fine. You never heard of that 10 years ago. If we would follow the Constitution, this wouldnt be happening. What we need are state and county officials who will just tell the federal government where to go.
Derrys producers contend that his show is far from merely being an ag program. He starts his day by reading the Wall Street Journal and watching cable news. He has incredibly detailed files containing everything he speaks about. Hes well known, but not always well liked. They say he is an advocate for rural America but his message is universal.
Derrys show, The Common Sense Coalition, is broadcast live from a deluxe studio in Jefferson City, Mo., a far reach from the stockyards where he got his start in broadcasting about 30 years ago. I dont care for any of this, Derry says dismissing the modern office with a wave of his hand. I want to broadcast with some sawdust under my feet like I did in Kansas City. That way I can spit!
He ambles from the studio smiling, waving at the secretaries and mumbling under his breath that he cant wait to get back to his ranch. As NBC-TV found out a few years ago, that is exactly what he does as soon as he can get in his pickup truck. During the era when Clinton claimed that anyone who listened to conservative talk-radio had a screw or two loose, NBC dispatched a film crew to tape Derry at his studio. They were nice enough kids, Derry remembers, but a little on the liberal side. At the end of his show, the director said, You arent really a talk show host are you? What are you going to do after the show? Derry replied, Gonna take some cows to a sale. You wanna come?
The NBC crew ended up on the ranch watching Derry round up cattle and came away with a new take. It was a national coup. Instead of the predicted flaying of conservative media, NBC viewers were treated in large part to Derry riding his horse, grinning from ear to ear, chasing cows and talking politics. Of course, Derrys neighbors werent surprised he won over the folks from NBC. One noted, He can charm a possum out of a tree.
Brownfield is happiest on his ranch near Centertown, Mo., some 30 winding miles from the studio on a dirt road. After a 14-hour day full of driving, broadcasting, driving, checking fences, riding his horse, taking care of his cows and delivering puppies, he relaxes at home. Now, this is just right! he says. Cant see a paved road or hear a telephone. But I can see my cows and hear my dogs bark.
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