Market to Market Memories

I’m a fan of Iowa Public Television (IPT) and I recall watching the show Market to Market, a show which I knew nothing about because it dealt with agriculture. Not everybody who lives in Iowa is a farmer, you know. I remember the days when Chet Randolph was the host. He had a wonderfully deep, resonant voice, a focused yet congenial manner when interviewing guests—and his left ear stuck out.

It was a show for farmers and there were two main reasons I watched it. I enjoyed listening to Chet (even though I never understood a single thing he said), and listening to the snippet of the catchy tune which introduced and closed the show.

It was years before I found out that the tune was Buy For Me the Rain by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The song came out in 1967 (Baby Boomer era) and it’s a love song that hints at mortality.

Chet started out in Mason City, Iowa as a farm news broadcaster and in his early days, he made part of his show an offer to do chores for farm families who otherwise would never have had the time to take a vacation. He spent about 16 years (1975-1990) hosting Market to Market back when it was first called Farm Digest in 1974. That’s just what I picked up about him on the web.

Even though I enjoyed Market to Market mainly for the homey, trustworthy, practical feeling I got from it, I just plain never followed the farm lingo.

I can give you my sense of it in this sample fictional broadcast:

Hello, I’m Chet Randolph and welcome to yet another incomprehensible edition of Farm Digest; oops, I mean Market to Market, in which I talk rings around topics like corn and soybean markets and how that affects your horoscopes. Today our guest is Ernie J. Kudzuclamper representing Beans R Us CO-OP. How the hell are you, Ernie?

Ernie: Hay muchos libros en la biblioteca. Sorry; I mean, I’d be a darn sight better, Chet, if the sowbelly futures were trending up like they would if the Mariana Trench weren’t so full of plastic bottles and pastel pampers.

Chet: I couldn’t agree more, Ernie. It makes my left ear stick out even farther than usual when I think of the Dumbo Octopus population overcome by anxiety about that and the new restrictions on silo height. Moving right along, what do you think of the fungus market so far?

Ernie: Well, Chet, I’d be inclined to be leaning toward but not too far, mind you, prices going through a teal-tinted wormhole on the way to higher prices in the 2 cent per bushel range—provided aliens reduce their tendency to get distracted into making fancy crop circles when they ought to be abducting  catchy tune earworms.

Chet: Good point, Ernie. That earworm has been spreading all over Iowa; seems like I hear the darn things every time our show starts. But we have to move along because I have this list of 500 issues that we have to discuss in the next half hour.

Ernie: Fine. Mind if I take a little dipping tobacco?

Chet: Go right ahead, I think there’s an old empty coffee can around here somewhere. Are you strong on spring wheat futures?

Ernie: I would be cautious about it for just a few seconds, or at least until I pass gas.

Chet: I’ll notify a technician to switch the fans up to high speed. I’ve been watching the chicken hindquarters market in the last few weeks and I’d like your opinion about whether anyone ever cleans out the cloacas on those things before they ship them.

Ernie: If I were a betting man, I’d put a few hundred bucks against, Chet. Why, just last week my whole family was in the emergency room with projectile vomiting and bloody diarrhea that drove all the nurses…

Chet: Moving right along, we should talk about the state legislature’s plan to actually pass a bill that would favor agricultural progress.

Ernie: Chet, I assume from the rhythmic wagging of your left ear that you’re referring to the bill to regulate cow tipping?

Chet: No, but go ahead, I’m easy.

Ernie: I think there’s a petition opposing it on the grounds of religious freedom, but I expect this bill to be signed by the governor because he signs everything put in front of him, even blank checks.

Chet: Strong words, coming from you, Ernie. Do you come from a long line of cow tippers?

Ernie:  Going back hundreds of generations, we’ve been tipping cows and I doubt there’s any regulation that will make an appreciable difference.

Chet: And just how do you do it, Ernie? Do you use a front-end loader? Cows tend to be pretty heavy.

Ernie: We learned the technique from Himalayan monks originally. Diligent practice allows you to tip a cow over with just one finger.

Chet: That’s how I learned to wag my left ear. Thanks, Ernie. And that’s a wrap for another edition of Market to Market, folks; thanks for watching.

I’m sure you get the same feeling I do.

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