By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/28/2004 7:00:00 PM
At a time when most broadcasters are hiring younger, blonder anchors, KFDX's Joe Brown is an anomaly. Celebrating 40 years at the Wichita Falls, Texas, station next month, the 70-year-old agriculture editor rises at 3:30 a.m. to prepare his morning farm and community-affairs show, RFD3 With Joe Brown, for the NBC affiliate. When he goes live at 5:30, Brown ad-libs the half-hour program. He talks about everything from commodity prices to a local peach festival.
Unlike perfectly coiffed personalities, Brown is a throwback. He prides himself on being spontaneous and totally himself. “He is TV from the early days,” says News Director Julie Pruett. Brown doesn't wear make-up or worry about wardrobe. When he couldn't find his pants one morning, he did the show in his boxers.
When RFD3—short for Rural Free Delivery—debuted in 1964, Brown's focus was agriculture, his specialty. After graduating from Midwestern State University, the Wichita Falls native penned a farm report for the local paper—which he still writes—and hosted a radio show. KFDX, now owned by Nexstar Broadcasting, hired Brown as a lead-in to the Today show.
The newspaper paid him $135 a week, and the station kicked in another $37.50. He covered local banquets asnd farm shows, shooting rolls of black-and-white film and airing the footage unedited the next morning. “People started to see themselves on TV, and I built up an audience,” he says modestly.
Ever versatile, Brown sold the ad spots early on, too. Most RFD3 advertisers are agriculture-related, some have aired on the show for 20 years. Brown likes to try out the products and does the commercial voiceovers live. “If they want to sell anything,” he says, “I can get it done.”
Brown attributes his popularity to his deep Wichita Falls roots. “I am a friend people grew up with. If I tried to start this in Dallas, I'd be run out of town in 15 minutes.”
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