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April 14, 2000

Professor's Dairy Broadcast Wins Regional Award

An in-depth look at the lives of Wisconsin dairy farmers broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio has earned regional recognition for a UW-River Falls journalism professor.

"Working from the Heart" researched and written by Patricia Berg, and co-produced with Dean Kallenbach of WPR in Eau Claire, was awarded first prize for a documentary in a large market by the Northwest Broadcasters News Association. NBNA is a six-state organization including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and North and South Dakota.

Berg launched the project in 1997 with a grant from the Freedom Forum's Professors Publishing Program. The one-hour broadcast included playing the 34-minute documentary followed by 25 minutes of call-in questions.

"As a way of life, the family dairy farm may be doomed, and I wanted to capture it before it was gone," said Berg. Berg visited five small dairy farm families in Minnesota and Wisconsin and asked them about their lives and how they are surviving in today's economy. She also consulted three dairy experts at UW-RF and farm safety experts.

What she found is the numbers of young farmers are decreasing as farms grow in size. Many farm owners simply must grow accordingly and that puts many of them into managerial roles, instead of doing the hands-on work they are accustomed to. Farmers don't relish this, but have come to accept it.

"People who do this work think of it as a way of life and they find joy in it. What I found were eloquent, hard-working people who want to spend time with their loved ones doing work they can be proud of," said Berg.

"Dean and I agreed that our primary goal in this piece was to step back and let the voices of the dairy farmers come through," Berg said. "I'm so pleased that NBNA thinks we succeeded. It was a wonderful experience from start to finish."

Kallenbach noted, "It was a real treat to collaborate with Pat on this venture. Her marvelous field work and research combined with her passion in telling the story about the work of the farmer to make this a special piece of journalism. I'm proud we were able to air it on Wisconsin Public Radio."

Berg covered western Wisconsin as a newspaper reporter in the late 1980s and early '90s. After earning her doctorate from the University of Minnesota, she joined the UW-RF journalism faculty in 1998.

Kallenbach has worked in radio and television for 25 years, the last 14 of those with Wisconsin Public Radio. He has been WPR's regional manager representing western Wisconsin for 10 years.

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