From humble beginnings in July of 2012, July 12 of 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of AgNet West and the service provided to the California agriculture industry. The network started with only 12 stations and has grown to include 33 radio stations signals throughout the state, reporting ag news from Shasta all the way down to Imperial County.
Gary Cooper is the principal founder and President of AgNet Media, the parent organization of AgNet West. As the youngest of four boys, Cooper grew up on a 160-acre vegetable farm in South Florida, eventually earning a Broadcast Journalism degree from the University of Florida. “I put the journalism and the farm background together and I have been doing farm communications ever since,” Cooper said.
Branching out to California was a big step for the company and one of the driving factors was the increasing interest in specialty crops. AgNet West now has the strongest on-air team in it’s history with News Director Sabrina Hill, Operations Manager Taylor Hillman and Multi-Media Journalist Brian German. The original four daily headline segments that started the network have now expanded to several other daily headlines, as well as an hour-long program reporting on national, state and local ag issues.
The diversity of California agriculture is unlike the agricultural landscape of the Midwest and requires a different approach to broadcasting farm news. For all the information that growers are interested in, there were few avenues to access it. “We’re an adjunct to communications for any association or organization in agriculture out here that wants to improve their communications to their members, their stakeholders in the field and the public in the areas in which we broadcast,” Cooper noted.
Cooper expressed his appreciation to the affiliates who have worked with AgNet West. The goal is to continue providing quality news to farmers and ranchers, while also bridging the informational gap between the agricultural community and the general public. “It’s been extremely welcomed by the farm community and we’re just proud to have been able to put this kind of thing together in a state like California,” said Cooper.