Agri-News – The Country Life

When I started in 1977 Agri-News was a five minute show that followed The Flintstones. It aired at 12:25 weekdays. As I understand it The Flintstones came to the station pre-cut to a half hour show that allowed for much more commercial time (US regs I believe). Agri-News filled that time.

Subsequently the station introduced a half hour noon show and Agri-News retained its 12:25 time slot. Then the noon show expanded to a full hour and the daily Agri-News segment continued until the end of dedicated farm news as I recall at the end of 1995.

In March of 1979 I was asked to pull together a half hour version of Agri-News to air on Sunday mornings. Peter Ferguson approached me with a “Golden Opportunity“! His suggestion was to recap and update stories aired throughout the week – as long as it made a half hour show that was fine. We included an end of the week weather insert that was dropped in. It reviewed the weather from the past week and provided the “agricultural” version of the forecast for the coming week.

Each year, beginning in the fall of 1979, the half hour show included a special from the International Plowing Match. We had the CKCO mobile in Kent county near Chatham that fall since this was in the heart of Channel 42 land and we did the noon show and the half hour show from the plowing match. This event travelled around the province from one county to another. We provided plowing match coverage from Windsor to Ottawa and from Meaford to Lucan.

As an aside in 1978 when the plowing match was in Wingham I was able to interview fellow farm boy Astronaut Neil Armstrong even though his handlers said he would not be granting interviews. He told them he didn’t mind speaking briefly with me though because we had discovered we both had farm backgrounds. Armstrong had a farm in Ohio.

Creating the half hour show happened very quickly and a couple of weeks later, on April 1st, the first half hour version of Agri-News went to air. It was usually recorded on Friday afternoons.

Quite some time later I learned this may have been because the station was short on its Can Con requirements and needed some immediate additional local programming to satisfy the CRTC.

About ten years later Paul Fransescutti suggested we produce an out of studio show. The name of the half hour show changed to The Country Life. For the most it aired on Saturday mornings. Segments were shot on location. Some of the shows included round table discussions on location with farmers and farm families. The show was usually assembled on Thursday afternoons and finished on Friday. The show included an end of the week market report from Brian Vickers.

That show ended I believe in 1993 or 1994. I then began providing more Ag segments for the 6 pm news show and longer features that aired as part of Sunday-Am. For a short while after Gary McLaren retired I was a backup to Bruce Johnston and helped to assemble Sunday AM and even hosted that show a few times.

David Imrie – 2020

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