***Editor's Note: The following viewer emails were received after AgDay went off the air on WOI-TV in Des Moines, IA earlier this month. Beginning March 29, AgDay will air at 5:30 a.m. on KDSM-TV, Channel 17 in Des Moines...
To Ag Day representatives, WOI-TV representatives, and members of the agricultural community in central Iowa:
I recently discovered that the central Iowa ABC affiliate, WOI-TV 5 in Des Moines, IA, has not only removed the farm program “Ag Day” from its usual 5 a.m. slot, but dropped it from its programming altogether. My grandfather is a long-time, regular viewer, and was disappointed to find it no longer there. Perhaps more than anything he was disappointed that ABC5 gave no warning that the program would be discontinued. I write this on his behalf.
My grandfather joined the Navy at 17 years-old to serve in World War 2. After several years in the Navy, he returned to Iowa to farm. Since 1950 he’s been a proud Iowa farmer. He has led a long and successful life on the farm in central Iowa. However, like many farmers of his generation, retirement is a difficult pill to swallow. He still wakes up early every morning, and although he’s no longer able to participate in the operation of the farm, he is still very much interested in the operation, and enjoys reading and watching farm news. For him, “Ag Day” filled a void in agricultural programming not offered by any other program on any other station. Like many of his demographic, he does not have cable television (a dish would be required in our rural area), and does not own or know how to operate a computer. For decades, over-the-air broadcasts have provided him with news and entertainment.
WOI-TV 5 replaced “Ag Day” with early morning news programming. Over-the-air broadcasts in the early morning are already saturated with news programming; the local CBS and NBC affiliates have news programming on at 5 a.m., and ABC has news programming following at 5:30. In addition to the removal of the program, there seems to have been no warning that it would no longer be carried. My grandfather watches the show regularly and saw no indication that it would no longer be on at its usual time. The website for the program still, in its list of stations carrying it (http://www.agweb.com/aims/television/AgDay.htm), lists it at the 5 a.m. time on WOI. On the WOI-TV website (http://www.woi-tv.com/), a search for “Ag Day” in the search bar returns 0 results. I can find nothing on the website to indicate that a quality program like “Ag Day” would have ever existed on WOI-TV/ABC 5. There are, however, links to news about programs of such frivolity as “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Bachelorette.” It’s a shame that a station already filled with news programming and irrelevant reality and primetime programs would drop a show so informative and relevant to the many people involved in agriculture in central Iowa.
WOI-TV 5 did its viewers a disservice by removing “Ag Day” from their lineup. The viewership may have been small, but it was a viewership with a history of not only watching the program, but a history of involvement with agriculture. For many, like my grandfather, it filled a niche in television programming that is unavailable to him elsewhere. The morning hours are already filled with repetitive news programs; to replace an informative agricultural program with a program that is substantively no different than the ones that can be found not only on other channels, but in other time slots as well, is disappointing. Perhaps it was cost prohibitive to continue to carry the program. If that’s the case, the viewers deserved some warning, or notice that they could find “Ag Day” on another channel.
I would like to encourage anyone in receipt of this email who has an interest in promoting agriculture in central Iowa to support the return of “Ag Day” to over-the-air broadcast on WOI-TV, or to express your disappointment in its elimination to those responsible. Central Iowa could use more ag related television programs, not more coverage of national news. The removal of the program, without warning or explanation, should concern all of those with an interest in agricultural education, news, and the development of agriculture in Iowa.
I just spent the last week visiting my mom and my favorite farmer father in Central Iowa. One of our time-honored traditions is to wake up early (and it is VERY early when you are from Washington state) and watch the 5 am WOI farm show called "Ag Day." On Monday morning, March 15, we curled up in a couple of comfy chairs in the dark with our hot drinks and turned on the television. Much to our chagrin, on the WOI channel, the ABC news was on which normally follows the farm show. When we called the station, they let us know that Ag Day was discontinued and replaced by another hours of news. Wow. No warning, no announcement and it was just on last Friday. That's all we need - to hear the same news about the floods eight times instead of four. With so much bad television out there, we were hoping some good and informational television might still be able to hang in there. Sure it might not bring in the dollars, but Ag Day was something some long time farmers really enjoyed for many many years. My dad has been involved in farming since 1950 and I am very proud that he still loves to keep up with the times…or rather did love to by watching Ag Day. Sorry, WOI and ABC, you’ve just lost a very good customer as well as a former fan from Washington.