September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Many farmers know the voice of the Fabulous Farm Babe
Jahnke, also known as the Fabulous Farm Babe, is the farm director for the Wisconsin Farm Report Radio, covering 21 stations across the state. In November, Jahnke was named the 2013 Farm Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. The Award was presented during the association's national convention in Kansas City, Mo.
"It was a very moving moment for me and it's pretty overwhelming. It's a humbling shock," Jahnke said about the moment she heard she won the award.
It was even more humbling to Jahnke to have her farm-broadcasting peers choose her as the recipient.
"These are the people who helped me in every phase of my career," she said. "We call ourselves a tight-knit family."
Jahnke has loved her 25-year broadcasting career.
"I cannot imagine ... doing anything else. I'm addicted to this job," she said.
Her name as the Fabulous Farm Babe came about when Farm Bureau members introduced her this way at a meeting early on in her career. It was a spinoff from the Sports Babe, the nickname for one of the first female sports broadcasters.
"It started as a joke and now I can't get rid of it. It stuck," Jahnke said.
However, the Fabulous Farm Babe has embraced her name and now uses it as her website, for her Facebook page and even on her vehicle license plate.
"A good chunk of my audience refers to me that way because they can't remember Pam Jahnke as well," the Farm Babe said.
On a typical day, Jahnke is at the office by 2:30 in the morning. The first item on her agenda is checking the markets.
"Now we're trading 24/7. The markets could have changed drastically since I last reported," Jahnke said.
She checks for any developing news and has her reports to other stations by 3:30 a.m. From 4:30 to just after 5 a.m., Jahnke is live on a broadcast for WISC-TV. From 5 to 6 a.m. she has an hour-long live radio segment. After that is time to schedule appointments and do interviews until the Chicago markets open. The rest of the day is spent following markets, keeping up with news and interviews. Usually the day wraps up for Jahnke around 2:30 p.m., unless she is at a conference, meeting or show, which can extend well into the evening.
"Everyday, I have the opportunity to talk to six to 20 new or different people about different subjects. And I'm always right on the edge of trying to get breaking news out. It feeds my adrenaline," Jahnke said about her favorite part of her job.
The early mornings and long hours are the most challenging aspect of her job.
"I'm usually up before any dairy farmer goes to the barn. I do that because I want to be the most prepared and sound like I've been up for awhile. I want to be on top of everything," Jahnke said.
When she's on the road, her schedule is even more hectic. Every year, Jahnke logs about 25,000 miles driving across Wisconsin.
"We try to be at every major event, show, conference or meeting," she said. "Radio is a companion media ... they (the listeners) want to know us and we want to know them. You have to make the effort to physically meet these people."
Although the extra effort makes for long days, Jahnke likes the interaction.
"Every time I'm out interviewing farmers, it feels like family because everyone in my family farms," Jahnke said. "It puts me in a comfort zone. It always reminds me how hard the audience I speak to works everyday."
It also helps her through the more difficult days, when she gets low on sleep or when she's sick.
"It just like on the farm. If you're sick, those cows still need to be milked," said Jahnke, who has never missed a day of work in her 25-year career.
She attributes her work ethic to her parents, who taught her to work until the job is done.
Jahnke grew up on a 44-cow dairy farm in Oconto County Wisconsin, 26 miles north of Green Bay. She ventured to college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she earned degrees in both broadcast journalism and broad area agriculture.
"I fell in love with this job during my first internship ... ," Jahnke said.
During her time at WAXX-FM and WAYY-AM in Eau Claire, Jahnke worked with broadcaster Bob Bosold.
"That's when I knew this is what God meant for me to do, and I haven't looked back since," she said.
Out of college, Jahnke's first job was with the same station working in rural sales and as Bosold's assistant. After two years, she went on to build a farm department at a station in Menomonie. In Oct. 1990, she found her way to Madison, Wis., and has been there ever since.
"I didn't know if Madison was going to like me or if I would like Madison, but we seem to be getting along now," Jahnke said.
A few of the main issues Jahnke is keeping of track of right now include healthcare, a Wisconsin raw milk bill, the redefinition of animal husbandry and - the biggest one in Jahnke's eyes - not having a farm bill.
However, some of her favorite interviews are helping people in the Madison area know where their food comes from.
"When I can find a story where not only farmers learn something about where their goods are going, but also a consumer learns something about where it came from, ... that gets me excited," Jahnke said.
Jahnke looks forward to continuing this communication for farmers and consumers as the Fabulous Farm Babe.
Jahnke wants her listeners to be able to follow her the way they like best - by listening on the radio, through her website, on Facebook and Twitter, or podcasts.
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