Guest broadcaster returns to his ‘roots
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CUTLINE: Longtime radio broadcaster Ken Root (left) was recently provided a tour of the West Union Green Pilot Streetscape Project by Tex Heyer (middle) and Jim Boelman. Root will be broadcasting from the courthouse gazebo during the Thursday, July 11, Streetscape grand opening celebration. (Mike Van Sickle photo)
Guest broadcaster returns to his ‘roots’
By Mike Van Sickle
Popular radio personality Ken Root will make his return to West Union while joining its residents in celebrating the Green Pilot Streetscape Grand Opening Thursday, July 11.
Root will tape his broadcast from the courthouse gazebo beginning at 1 p.m. Plans are for the “Rural Iowa Economic Development” presentation to air the next day on the broadcaster’s Agribusiness/Money Matters report.
In kicking off the day’s activities, the special broadcast will coincide with the downtown walking tours.
Now living in Dyersville, Root previously broadcast live from West Union during the community’s Sesquicentennial celebration in July 1999. It was during that approximate time period that the now 64-year-old discovered his “roots” truly grew from West Union.
Root explains that his great-great-grandfather “Old” Eli Root moved to West Union from Vermont. Both his great-grandfather Will and grandfather Eli were born in the Fayette County community.
When asked what he has learned about the people of West Union over the past 14 years, Root responded, “They are the friendliest of people. But not only that, they are an industrial people. They are determined to preserve their town and are proud of their heritage.
“As this (Streetscape) project shows, they are not only thinking about the present, but want to assure it (community) strongly carries on into the future,” he added.
In announcing Root’s retirement in May from broadcasting the agribusiness report on WHO, the Des Moines NBC affiliate reported that the journalist began his broadcast career in Oklahoma City in 1974 at WKY-TV, a sister station to WHO-TV.
Root worked in his home state of Oklahoma for six years before moving to Kansas and starting radio and television agricultural news networks. He then moved to New Jersey with American Cyanamid and to Washington, D.C., to launch the National AgriChemical Retailers Association.
In 1994 he came back to the Midwest to host the popular “AgriTalk” radio broadcast, a daily talk show that was broadcast on 120 stations. The program exists today and continues to debate issues that impact people who live and work in rural America.
In 2005, Root moved to Iowa as the senior farm broadcaster at WHO Radio. He remained there until 2009.
The longtime radio/television personality continues to report for the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network and writes a weekly column for the High Plains Journal. He also is an interviewer for Agri-Pulse, a weekly agricultural policy electronic newsletter.
Root continues his work with the Iowa Knights of Columbus. He produces a weekly half-hour radio program “Knight Life,” that highlights the good works of men of the Iowa Knights of Columbus.
Streetscape Grand Opening July 11
The Green Pilot Streetscape grand opening celebration is reaching the fast lane. The Thursday, July 11, schedule is as follows:
1 p.m. – Longtime radio personality/ag reporter Ken Root will broadcast from the courthouse gazebo, and walking tours of the downtown project will be offered.
3 p.m. – Ribbon-cutting and short program, with refreshments and a performance by the Just for Kix dancers to follow.
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Music by Fusion at the Civic Plaza.
Former West Union councilman Dean Pedersen will serve as the emcee during the festivities.
All events will take place at the new downtown Civic Plaza at the corners of Elm and Vine streets. All businesses are encouraged to join the event with tours of their businesses, sidewalk sales, etc. Any individual, group, or organization wishing to participate in planning the grand opening celebration is encouraged to call Deputy City Clerk Amie Johansen at 422-3908.