Samuelson retires after 60 years at WGN Radio
Some of the best things in life have humble beginnings. Like a morning that starts with helping your father milk cows, followed by a 17-mile drive to the local radio station, that eventually leads to a radio broadcasting career spanning six decades.
That was how Orion Samuelson, WGN Radio farm broadcaster, started his first day on the air more than 60 years ago. Samuelson retired at the end of December, but his legacy will live on for years to come. Samuelson started his radio broadcasting career at WKLJ, a local radio station down the road from his family’s farm in western Wisconsin. In 1960, he began working at WGN Radio, where he has delivered daily livestock and economic reports and co-hosted “The Morning Show” on Saturdays with Max Armstrong ever since.
Orion Samuelson, WGN Radio farm broadcaster, right, interviews Richard Guebert Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau during Ag Day at the 2019 Illinois State Fair. (Photo by Katie Zelechowski)
Samuelson, also known as “The Big O, played a key role in several Cook County Farm Bureau events throughout the years including the 50th year anniversary and the 75th year anniversary celebrations of the organization (We asked him to participate in the CCFB 100-year event but he had previously scheduled his birthday party!), keynote speaker at annual meetings and public relations activities with farmers and non-farmers.
Early on in his time with WGN, Samuelson recognized the importance of using his platform to speak to both people in rural communities and in cities. He saw an opportunity to educate listeners from different backgrounds on the importance of agriculture.
Samuelson has received an overwhelming number of messages thanking him for his time on the radio. WGN provided a voicemail box for fans and friends to call in wishing him the best and many of those voice messages were played on the air. Cook County Farm Bureau made a phone call on behalf of the members to wish Orion “the very best on behalf of his farmers and local friends and thanked him for being such a wonderful advocate for agriculture in the public for so many years.” We will miss this powerful voice of agriculture. During a recent interview with the RFD Radio Network, Samuelson said although he may not respond to every email and letter he receives, he reads and cherishes each one.
Cook County Farm Bureau thanks Mr. Orion Samuelson, who retired December 31, for providing such a powerful voice and advocacy for farmers and agriculture for so many decades through radio, TV, and print.
Portions of this article were adapted from a FarmWeek article written by Katie Zelechowski