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Better Than Nuthin

Storytelling Podcasts

Ken Root is at it again! He is unpredictable and biased against both sides. He interviews fascinating people and tells some pretty good stories. BTN is drawn from Ken’s early life on an Oklahoma farm, his fifty years in broadcasting and enchanting people he’s met and kept as friends.


United States


Ken Root is at it again! He is unpredictable and biased against both sides. He interviews fascinating people and tells some pretty good stories. BTN is drawn from Ken’s early life on an Oklahoma farm, his fifty years in broadcasting and enchanting people he’s met and kept as friends.




Union City Tornado 50th Anniversary

I was a young teacher at Union City, Oklahoma in late May of 1973. At 5:12 pm the town was struck by a very strong tornado. Two people were killed and there was great property damage. To the east of town, the tornado hit the home of the Ninman family and destroyed it. They sought shelter by driving their car into a trench silo as their only protection. The tornado pulled the car, with four occupants, out of the silo and slung it across the pasture. Larry Ninman, was almost 16 when the tornado almost killed him and his family. He was one of my students and went on to a 40 year career in coaching, teaching and high school administration. Larry gives his memories of the storm and miraculous survival from a direct hit by one of the most famous tornadoes in history.


Agriculture’s Future Russ Green

Russ Green was an Iowa kid who made his way to the top of the Ag Equipment Industry. Upon Retirement, he didn't slow down. He turned his attention to helping the youth and young professionals develop themselves and their businesses. A fascinating speaker and a sincere leader. He's still the kind of person I'd like to see in charge of corporate America. A half hour that will inspire 4-H members and retired farmers.


Gene Millard Planting Corn Soybeans and Wind Towers

Gene Millard has observed many years as a farmer. He has keen powers of observation and even greater ability to explain and express how a farm in NW Missouri should operate. We talk technology that has become very complex and we talk human emotions that are just like they always have been. He explains the reality of why he put up three wind towers on his farm: "Just another crop." is the short summary. But, of course, there is more. A delightful half hour with a determined, intellectual and analytical farmer who still has passion for how he, and his family, farm the land.


Flooding on Mississippi--Health and Safety with Patti Ruff Clayton County Sanitarian

April 27, 2023 The Mississippi River is near the crest of a historic flood. All along the river, homes are flooded including their septic systems and wells. Patti Ruff is the Clayton County, Iowa Sanitarian. She is quite familiar with the impact of high water on wells and septic systems. The interview runs about ten minutes. Very informative if you are worried about your water when you return to the islands. Ken Root


Stories of Early Radio Stations in Midwest - George Davisson

George is a lawyer and a historian but he loves radio. A great news voice of WHO for years. We talk of the early days and then we jump to the characters who influenced the business. KMA plays prominently along with WNAX. I couldn't resist leading him into WKRP and how it seemed like a documentary to those of us in the business.


Antique Radio Collector and IARCHS Auction

Doug Spyrison is wealth of knowledge about AM Radios going back to the 1920's. He explains designs, tube count, tube rarity and the progress of development through the 1960's when transistors revolutionized electronics. He also describes what will be sold at the Iowa Antique Radio and Historical Society Club Auction (IARCHS) at 10 am on May 6 in Anamosa, Iowa. I've been to the event and it is a great learning experience but you have to keep your hands in your pockets or you will buy something. The website for the auction is Email for information is


Mexico to Canada Railroad. Will it impact Midwest Farmers? - Mike Steenhoek, Soy Transportation Alliance

The Kansas City Southern Railroad will merge with the Canadian Pacific Railroad. They are the smallest two members of the Class 1 Railroad Club. Steenhoek, in his position with the Soy Transportation Alliance, sorts out the reasons the merger was allowed and the first Mexico to Canada ownership of a single railroad.


Rich Keller - Adventure Traveler

Rich Keller is a quiet, mild mannered, retired public relations professional. But in the last few years, he has been posting on Facebook that his solo vacations have been in strange places. Mexico, Central and South America seem to lure him but he stays in sections of cities that most of us consider unsafe. "No," say Rich, as he describes the kind and colorful people he has met. "I don't speak Spanish but I get along just fine." This conversation is delightful as we go through his recent "adventures" within old and beautiful cities that most tourists will never visit.


Tobacco Farming1999-2023 update Graham Boyd

In 1999, AgriTalk devoted a program to the status of tobacco farming in the face of a multi-state settlement with cigarette companies to pay for health related damages caused by smoking. Tobacco farmers were going to lose much of their market in places where tobacco had been grown (legally) for four hundred years. The total Master Settlement Agreement was over 200 billion dollars but growers feared none of that would come to them to assist in moving their farming away from the profitable tobacco crops they grew every year. Note: I have a posting of the original program from 1999 on my podcast series: "AgriTalk: the Root Years" It has growers, callers and Mr. Graham Boyd, Executive Director of the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association, He is a guest on both shows.


Exploring Farm Land in Southern Africa

Should U.S. farmers look at land investment in Africa? That was the premise of a two week trip to look at land in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia. My travel companions were Maurice Clark, an investor and business partner of Steve Bruere, President of The People's Company. Also Michael McClean, videographer. We were escorted by Susan Payne and Koos DeKlerk, from Britain and South Africa who were working with a corporation that bought and sold farmland worldwide. Our take on the countries and the farms. Maurice recommended against proceeding with relationship. We wish Koos and Susan well in their lives.


AM Radio Under Threat by EV’s

Major car companies have announced that they will not put AM radios in their electric Vehicles (EV's). The stated reason is electrical interference. My guests beg to differ. Brian Winnikens is owner of WRDN in Durand, Wisconsin and Gene Millard was manager of KFEQ in St Joseph, Missouri. Both stations are AM. Their arguments are about past value and future threat. Millard is somewhat resigned to his fate, Winnikens is not. He gives a call to action to keep AM and FM radio FREE!


Industrial Hemp Upcoming January 14,2023

Last summer, I traveled to Great Bend, Kansas and spent three days reporting on Industrial Hemp. You can find in 2 podcast from mid year. The Baldwin family has been growing the crop since 2017 and holding this conference each year to explain how they support growers who want to sign a contract with them to deliver the crop the following fall. Melissa Nelson-Baldwin remains their spokesperson and a leader in the agronomics of this new, old, crop. She talks of getting rid of the "marijuana" stigma as they focus strictly on showing growers how they can grow and profit from Industrial Hemp. We discuss the issues facing hemp farming. We talk of the future and the areas to be addressed at the conference. Kan-Equip Conference Facility (IH dealership) 10 am until 2 pm January 14, 2023 Southbend Industrial Hemp dot com


A Songwriter’s Appeal Dan Modlin

Dan plays two songs and talks about his determination to write country music. He brings a lot of guitar skill to the table and a family history that is rock solid. We swap stories but they all tie together. He has written a song called: "Sara Gets A Second Chance" It is about waiting for an organ transplant. Very moving. It just takes one miracle. To download the song:


Forecasting Weather--Fighting Bureaucracy - Mike Smith

In 1981, Mike Smith founded a private weather forecasting service that soon became computer based in its single location forecast distribution. He enjoyed strong popularity as a television meteorologist beginning in the 1970's at Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, then Wichita, Kansas, St. Louis and back to Wichita where he started Weatherdata. Smith testified, as an expert witness, in a trial following the crash of United Flight 191 at DFW Airport in the 1980's. The plane flew through a small thunderstorm that produced a strong downburst and pushed the airplane into the ground. His accounting of the events explaining what happened, and who was at fault, is vivid. He also wrote a book on weather warnings and the science of meteorology as it developed during his career. An excellent read but even better when this animated and excited man tells you what still gets him going every day. Smith pays tribute to Dr Ted Fujita, calling him the smartest meteorological scientist ever born and crediting Fujita with developing the science of forensic meteorology. I spoke with Mike Smith in an earlier podcast, with this one focusing on the bureaucratic battles within government agencies and between private sector meteorologists and public sector employees.


Des Moines Farmers Market - Kelly Foss

The Saturday Morning Farmers Market in downtown Des Moines, Iowa is unbelievable. Twenty Five Thousand People stroll through the blocks and blocks of vendors who are selling everything from fresh produce to baked goods to breakfast burritos, to art and specialties. Musicians are on every corner and the atmosphere is stimulating and soothing all at once. Kelly Foss was the Executive Director of the market for twenty years. She and I became friends near the beginning of her tenure and she tells me the progress that has been made over the two decades since. We also speak of some of the unforgettable people who were at the market each week. Ranked in the top ten farmers markets in the nation.


Farmer Trapped in Grain Bin Tells His Story

Dennis Schneider and his son were unloading a bin that had clumps of corn that would only come out if someone went in with a shovel and broke the crust. Dennis had a "master plan" to use his cell phone to call son if he got in trouble. His son was in control of the large auger outside. When Dennis slid down into the corn, he couldn't call before he was trapped to his neck. His rescue took anxious hours as he struggled to breathe. Schneider tells his story because he says God told him to do so. Ben Nuelle interviewed Schneider in 2015 but the risk of grain entrapment continues today.


Dedicating Her Life to being Pro Life Rachel Owen’s Story

This story is current and unabashedly Pro Life. It comes from my encounter with a lady from Iowa City who spoke to a men's religious organization about the need to fund a clinic for "Abortion Minded" women. Rachel Owen is fearless and remains determined to offer choices to women in crisis. She highlights the impact of changes in laws and medicine that are reducing the opportunities to develop a relationship with women who have an unplanned pregnancy.


To Iraq and Back Guest: Terri Moore USDA/AFBF Communications

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, led a small delegation to Baghdad in 2006. It was during the very stormy period following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein Regime. I was the only reporter in the delegation as we flew from Washington, D.C, to Turkey and then boarded a C-17 cargo plane for Baghdad. The visit was only one day but it was memorable with three attacks on the U.S. Embassy where we were implementing an agreement to bring in agriculturalists to rebuild Iraqi irrigation canals and farms. Terri Moore was Director of Communications for USDA. She organized the trip and was part of the delegation. Moore now serves as Vice President of Communications for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.


Louisiana Man-Dr Michael Strain

He has been the Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture since 2008, a veterinarian since the late 1970's and a smart, articulate bundle of energy. We talk about crops in his home state. Learn more about sugar than you want to know. We discuss the challenges for farmers. He's on it. There is talk that Dr Strain might be a future U.S. Secretary of Agriculture or seek elected office above his current pay grade. He is a delightful conversationalist and well versed in all things agricultural. I have a sponsor for the show. Concept Hearing. They are an Iowa business that has helped me for the past seventeen years. I hope you will listen to their message as it is a fact that untreated hearing loss can lead to several other mental and physical challenges. Get a hearing screening to be sure of your abilities. Most men who grew up on a farm or worked in industry have an occupational hearing loss. A fact of life in the industrial age. Treat it like a diminishing ability to see. But be aware that hearing loss cannot be cured by putting on hearing aids. You have to wear them and work at rediscovering the frequencies you've lost. I devoted an episode of BTN to hearing loss. "Hearing is a Gift" It is worth a listen to understand the challenges of hearing loss.


Pioneer Meteorologist - Weatherdata Founder - Author

Mike Smith was doing prime time weather on WKY-TV in Oklahoma City when he was a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. His skill was obvious but his plans for the future were even greater. Smith founded WeatherData, a company that predicted severe weather for corporate America. He has stopped trains to let a tornado pass. He has told manufacturers whether they should keep working or take shelter. Smith's fifty year career has seen the greatest advancement in weather predicting technology in history. He cites the most significant changes in forecasting to save lives. He has recently published a book: "Warnings" that eloquently deciphers the events of his career. From the Union City tornado of 1973 to the weather related crash of a jumbo jet approaching Dallas Fort Worth airport to the high power computer modeling technology of today. He's now involved in designing storm shelters and subscriber services to notify you of an approaching storm.