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Heidi Shaffer, Published July 16 2010

Ag radio network pioneer Lyle Romine dies

A well-known ag broadcaster who attracted thousands of listeners each day has died.

Lyle Romine, the voice of the American Ag Network who took a leave from the network in May after a cancer diagnosis last fall, died Thursday in his Hickson, N.D., home.

Romine, 59, started his radio career in his hometown of Devils Lake, N.D., more than 35 years ago before moving to Ag America and WDAY Radio in Fargo.

“For our area, he was a pioneer in farm broadcasting,” said Steve Carlson, operations manager for American Ag Network, which airs programming on 40 stations in the Dakotas and Montana.

“He had a great radio voice and was very knowledgeable about anything ag-related,” said Kevin Weaver, WDAY general manager. “I’m sure lots of farmers out there tuned into him every day.”

Romine’s programming aired on WDAY for 26 years before the American Ag Network severed ties with the station in January to move to Scott Hennen’s The Flag/AM1100.

Romine reported daily commodities news and agricultural stories, which often featured interviews with regional and national delegates.

“He was an outstanding interviewer,” Carlson said.

Romine, who helped in 1982 to launch Ag America, which later merged to form the American Ag Network in 1986, told The Forum that his aim was to feed listeners information, not advice.

“Every listener needs word about weather changes, and the farmer – realizing at long last that his market is now worldwide – needs to be on top of every twitch in the market,” he said in December 1982. “Our information can affect the bottom line; if the farmer needs advice, he probably shouldn’t be farming.”

Romine served as farm director for the American Ag Network since 1986. Longtime on-air partner Rusty Halvorson took over that position earlier this year after Romine went on sick leave, but the network will look for another ag reporter, Carlson said.

“He’ll be hard to replace,” Carlson said.

“Farm broadcasting is a unique profession, and we’re going to do a nationwide search for his replacement,” he added.

Romine is survived by his wife, Terri, son, Jesse, and daughter-in-law, Anita. A private family memorial service is planned.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511