Legendary Farm Broadcaster Max Armstrong Reflects Upon His Hoosier Roots

Legendary farm broadcaster and Hoosier Max Armstrong, who retired in 2023 after a 48-year career in farm broadcasting. In 2001, the Gibson County native was recognized as Farm Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

You hear and see less of him now, because he’s “retired”—but for years, Max Armstrong brought you farm news and information on your radio and television. The fellow Hoosier started his farm broadcasting journey in southwest Indiana.

“We understate and underappreciate Hoosier Hospitality. The people of [Indiana] are so genuine and so kind,” says Armstrong, who recently retired after 48 years in farm broadcasting.

Growing up near Owensville in Gibson County, Armstrong says his love of listening to AM radio stations across the U.S.—including KMOX in St. Louis and WLW in Cincinnati—is what led to his career path in farm broadcasting.

“I was just so fortunate to grow up on a farm in Gibson County and to be born into a farm family—a community that cared about us—and a Church community that was so welcoming too—as well as being able to live my dream of wanting to be on the radio,” says Armstrong. “Many of us have walked down that pathway as kids wanting to be on the radio. For me to be able to do it over all of these years has really been a blessing.”

Max Armstrong “running the board” at WVMC radio in Mt. Carmel, Illinois circa 1971. Photo courtesy of Max Armstrong.

As a student at Owensville High School, Armstrong traveled across state lines to work on-air at WVMC radio in Mt. Carmel, Illinois.

After graduation, Armstrong went to Purdue University and started working on-air for WASK radio in Lafayette as a young college student.

“They gave me the chance to do what I wanted to do,” he says. “I chased fire trucks and I would go to accident scenes. I called them ‘Spiker Reports’ because they were ‘brought to you by Spiker Oil Company’. It was just a wonderful opportunity to work with some very talented people.

After graduating from Purdue, Max worked for more than two years with the Illinois Farm Bureau before joining Chicago’s legendary WGN Radio and WGN-TV. There, he worked with fellow farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson for more than 35 years. The two of them also started and hosted This Week in Agribusiness beginning in 2005, which is shown on RFD-TV and syndicated to television stations across the U.S. The program is now hosted by Mike Pearson.

While working for WGN, Armstrong also shared the airwaves and hallways with Phil Donahue, as well as Bob Bell, who portrayed Bozo the Clown on Bozo’s Circus from 1960-1984, and Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Carey.

Max Armstrong (left) with fellow legendary farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson (right) at the WGN-AM studios in Chicago circa 1995. Photo courtesy of Max Armstrong.

In 2001, Armstrong was named Farm Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). Armstrong says he has been fortunate to originate farm broadcasts from every state in America and file reports from more than 30 different nations.

Even though Max “retired” at the end of last year, he says he still has a passion for both broadcasting and sharing the stories of the farm community.

“That’s why I try to stay engaged, to some extent, going to various major events where farmers are a present. That’s the joy of having been so close to farmers and sharing their stories. It’s that personal contact of being at their kitchen tables, being in their cabs, being with them in their barns—there’s something very special about that.”

Max not only has a passion for sharing the stories of America’s farmers in front of a radio microphone and in front of a television camera, but he also has authored two books: Stories From the Heartland, which was published in 2015, and More Stories from the Heartland. Both are collections of stories and photos of the farm families and people who help feed, fuel, and clothe the world.

Nowadays, instead of seeing Max on your television or hearing him on your radio, you may be more likely to see him at your hometown antique farm machinery show riding around on one of his fully-restored Farmall tractors.

Click BELOW to hear Hoosier Ag Today’s feature story on legendary farm broadcaster and Gibson County native Max Armstrong.

Max Armstrong driving his 1953 Farmall Super M during a parade in 2015. Photo courtesy of Max Armstrong.