News Service


John Eighmey, Greenlee School, (515) 294-0481
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- Herb Plambeck, the nation's first farm broadcaster and a life-long leader in agricultural journalism, is the recipient of Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication's 1999 Schwartz Award.

The award is named for James W. Schwartz, a former journalism education and chairperson of the ISU journalism department. It is the highest honor conferred by the Greenlee School. The award will be presented at a reception on Friday, Oct. 1, from 3 -- 5 p.m. in the Gallery Room of the ISU Memorial Union.

"If anyone could be said to be the voice of the family farm, it is Herb Plambeck," said John Eighmey, Greenlee School chairperson. "Herb was the first full-time radio farm reporter in the United States. He grew up on a farm in Scott County, Iowa, and applied the farm outlook to his work as a farm journalist. He got to work early, observed events carefully, and spent many a long day working to bring accurate and complete farm news home to his listeners."

Plambeck studied at Iowa State University in the early 1930s, taking every course available in journalism, English, psychology, sociology and agriculture. In 1935, he began his journalism career as the farm editor of the "Davenport Democrat." In 1936, he became the farm director of WHO Radio in Des Moines, a position he held for 34 years and which included service as a war correspondent in Europe during World War II.

In 1970, Plambeck was appointed assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, a position he held for five years in Washington D.C. He then returned to Iowa to resume his career as a journalist. He currently serves as the garden editor for KRNT Radio in Des Moines, and does a weekly farm broadcast feature on WMT Radio in Cedar Rapids.

Plambeck's first full-time farm broadcasting job began in August 1936. Plambeck also made the first farm broadcast reports from Russia in 1955 and from China in 1976. He is the author of 11 books and booklets.

Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz said, "Herb has walked beside the man with the plow, the scientist in the laboratory, the agri-business pioneer, and the political leaders in agriculture from Washington to Warsaw and Des Moines to Da Nang. I know of no one who has had a broader spectrum of the food and fiber industry than Herb Plambeck."

Past Schwartz Award winners include Hugh Sidey, Time Magazine; Robert L. Bartley, Wall Street Journal; Lauren Soth, Des Moines Register; Don Muhm, Des Moines Register; Roy Reiman, magazine publisher; Terry Anderson, Associated Press; and Ann Cooper, former international and United Nations correspondent for National Public Radio.


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