REGINA - Canadian Western Agribition paid tribute, and said thanks, to longtime farm broadcaster Jim Smalley on Friday.
Smalley has been Farm News Director of 620 CKRM since 1982, after serving as the first Farm News Director for CKCK Radio and Television. He has been attending every Agribition since 1975, covering the multitude of stories from the annual livestock show which he calls it his busiest news week of the year.
Smalley has recently announced his retirement from CKRM and Harvard Broadcasting, effective in a few months. Agribition paid tribute to him with a special presentation in the Agribition newsroom on Friday morning.
The biggest announcement was that the Agribition newsroom has been renamed the Jim Smalley Newsroom.
That name change took effect as of Friday. CWA CEO Shaun Kindopp also presented Smalley with a certificate as a lifetime shareholder in Canadian Western Agribition.
It was also revealed that the day before, Smalley got news from the province’s Minister of Agriculture that he was being honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
The morning was a chance for Smalley’s colleagues and longtime Agribition dignitaries to pay their respects, with a few noting Jim had that reporter's habit of pulling them aside and saying “stick around, I need to talk to you.”
In speaking to the large gathering in the newsroom, Smalley had advice for the younger news reporters who were there covering Agribition.
“This show has a scoop every day for every journalist here,” said Smalley. “And you may not hear about what somebody else gets, and don’t worry about it. You can get your own scoop, there’s that many stories here at Agribition. It’s that big a show.”
Another piece of advice Smalley had, when he spoke to the media scrum, was to talk to people and find out what their story is.
“I just finished doing an interview with a ten year old girl from Miami, Manitoba. She sold her heifer calf that she raised for $49,000 here in the Charolais Sale. That’s a heck of a story, a great story.”
There has been no shortage of stories that Smalley has covered at Agribition. He said one of his most memorable interviews at Agribition was with Prince Philip. “He was a very interesting person to say the least.”
He takes great pride in the importance of agriculture news to the province.
“Agriculture news is key and extremely important in this province, because it’s such a dominant agriculture province,” said Smalley. “We’ve got 43 per cent of the arable land and we’ve got the second or third largest cowherd in Canada. So most people think, yeah, well we’re grainland. No, we have a massive amount of cattle in this province, and that’s because we have scrub land. You can’t grow crops on scrub land. A big deep valley, the best thing to do is put some cows on it, because you can’t grow crops on it.”
Smalley also reflected on his long tenure covering Agribition and in seeing it grow.
“Most people are not aware how big Agribition is. Agribition is a showcase for the world.”
Smalley noted in other years they have had 86 foreign countries represented, "almost half the world," and that they come back year after year.
“In my first Agribition, I was interviewing a man from France selling cattle to Saskatchewan. I met a man from England who is selling cattle to Saskatchewan… There’s people from Mongolia this year. There’s people coming from Mongolia to look at not just our cattle. They’re here to look at our machinery, because that part of the world, Ukraine, Mongolia, have the type of land we have here.
“And in Australia — we had an Australian on the air on my airwaves yesterday talking about Agribition being incredibly big, incredibly world-type show. It’s that big a show. And there’s a scoop here every day for every journalist here.”