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Leigh Radford - Icon of Rural Media moves on (August 2017)

After a 30 year career working for ABC Rural, Adelaide based National Head of Rural & Regional programs, Leigh Radford has taken up the opportunity to further his interests outside of the national broadcaster.

Recognised as one of ABC Rural’s most awarded broadcasters, Leigh was the inaugural Telstra South Australian Rural Journalist of the Year in 1996 and has been honoured with the Dalgety Award for Excellence in Rural Journalism as well as various Landcare Awards.

Life behind the microphone assisting rural & regional communities - Leigh Radford’s true passion

In recognition of his exceptional service and commitment to rural and regional communities, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.  As a sign of the esteem in which Leigh Radford is held locally, Rural Media South Australia inducted him to the honoured status Rural Media Icon last December.

Leigh Radford was an integral component of a four-generation long dynasty of the Radford family’s involvement in the media.  He was the most senior member of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s executive management team to have ever been based in Adelaide and managed the largest rural media broadcast group in the world, including oversight of the longest continually running rural broadcast program ever seen.

His management of the ABC rural broadcast group and the Country Hour was the envy of every country with an interest in agricultural communication.  In particular, Leigh was responsible for shaping the careers of many of today’s top rural journalists, including a number who went on to become internationally renowned Foreign Correspondents.

In particular, Leigh Radford has made his mark on the international stage himself, unselfishly representing the entire Australian rural media sector, private and Government, as the Australian delegate to the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists – travelling overseas to represent our national interest, convening the judging panel of the world broadcast rural media awards and influencing rural media policy internationally.

Leigh Radford has been described by many as being extremely ethical in his dealings with all people, self-effacing, modest and willing to sacrifice personal gain in favour of benefit to his organisation


Caroline Winter stars at SA Media Awards (June 2017)

Former ABC SA Country Hour Executive Producer and Presenter, Caroline Winter recently took out the ‘Best Radio Broadcaster’ and ‘Best Radio News/Current Affairs/Feature’ award at the SA Media Awards

In announcing Caroline as South Australia’s ‘Best Radio Broadcaster’, the judging panel recognised her as being a genuine storyteller.  It emphasised that with her naturally engaging style and crafty use of the medium, Caroline produced compelling stories that humanised the issues of the day.

Most importantly, the judging panel credited Caroline as a broadcaster who provided a voice to South Australians dealing with the most difficult of situations, clearly earning the trust of those who opened up to her.

When announcing her win in the Radio News/Current Affairs/Feature Award’ for the ABC PM Radio story, ‘Statewide Blackout’ the judging panel said Caroline’s story was a brilliant example of good old fashioned shoe leather reporting that took listeners into the heart of South Australia’s recent electricity blackout.

It felt that Caroline could have opted out of this story at any time, but instead took it solely upon herself to drive into the blackout and find compelling audio to illustrate the absurdity of a state without power.  Finding herself under immense deadline pressure, Caroline’s tight scripting combined with great talent produced an award winning story.

Also at the same awards ceremony, the ‘Best Rural/Regional Journalist Award’ was won jointly by the ABC South East team of Kate Hill, Selina Green, Courtney Howe and Alexia Atwood.  Their story, ‘Ambulance cover backlash’ demonstrated what could be achieved when newsroom journalists work together to cover a story.  The ABC South East team identified a political decision that would impact thousands of residents in their community and persisted in covering the topic, speaking to a wide range of stakeholders and members of the community as the issue evolved over time.

The extensive coverage played a key role in the public debate of this issue and no doubt helped influence policymakers who eventually amended a controversial decision.

One of the finalists in this ‘Best Rural/Regional Journalist Award’ category was Peri Strathearn from the Murray Valley Standard.  Peri had previously won Rural Media SA’s ‘Best Regional Rural Journalist Award’ in 2015 and 2016.

Not a great shot after a heavy night for the photographer,
but an on-the-night view of Caroline Winter’s various awards.


RMSA donation to Nepal Appeal brings results (April 2017)

A financial donation by Rural Media South Australia to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal in 2015 has assisted in the process of resurrecting that country’s agricultural sector.

RMSA’s contribution was made as part of an initiative developed by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and facilitated in this country by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists.  Initial results of the donation included a school agricultural training centre, providing potential to create a long-term legacy for the rural sector of Nepal.

While nearly 80% of Nepal’s population depended upon subsistence farming for their livelihoods, the country’s agricultural industry was devastated by the earthquake.  Investment in agriculture, enabling people to farm successfully again, was one of the main objectives of the fundraising project.

The project supported by RMSA’s donation looked at two principal areas of assistance.

The first was an income generation and skills-learning programme for the Triratna community school in the Lalitpur region.  This provided pupils with the basic agricultural skills and knowledge that would allow them to gain meaningful employment after completion of their schooling.

Using empty land at the school premises, a kitchen garden was created and a range of vegetables grown.  These were used in the school’s ‘home stay’, run by the cooperative to generate income for local social work and were also sold to school staff and parents.  The profits funded further school projects.

A second project focused on microcredit, also in the Lalitpur region.  Laligurnas Mahila Samuha was a women’s group in Thulopukhari that had just begun to invest in agriculture by saving a small amount of money within their group.  Each member had been saving 100 rupees (about $1.36) per person per month, the plan being to pool these amounts and distribute the sum as loans.

However, with a top-up loan from the fundraising appeal, twelve women in the group were each able to initiate their own farming project, ranging from raising goats, pigs, or poultry, to growing vegetables or tomatoes.  To date, the group has not only been able to save money in buying less food from the market, but they have also been able to sell their excess products.  As part of the funding conditions, the money raised from these sales also allowed their children to go to school, ensuring the children’s long term education.

Clearing the land at Triratna school


Maya Nepali, with her family and the goats she bought using the microcredit loan


Stock Journal’s Jacqui Bateman – World’s Best Rural Photograph (April 2017)

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) has named Stock Journal photographer, Jacqui Bateman as having taken the world’s best rural photograph.

Announced at the recent lFAJ 2017 Congress in Pretoria, South Africa, Jacqui’s winning photograph was of shearer, Daniel Telfer taken during shearing on Jacqui’s own Limestone Coast property at Furner in the state’s South East.  It featured a fully naked Daniel removing the wool off a sheep in a stance similar to that of PETA’s earlier anti-shearing publicity shot of an unclothed female model posing with a faux sheep covered in artificial red dye to simulate shearing cuts.

The genuine shearing shot of Daniel was originally published in the Stock Journal and formed part of Jacqui’s winning portfolio of photographs entered in RMSA’s 2016 Telstra & Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards.  It then went on to win the ‘People’ category of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists’ 2017 Star Prize Photography awards.

In addition to taking out the overall Best Photograph Award in Pretoria, the photo also won the ‘People’ category.

Former ABC Rural Officer and current RMSA Telstra & Rural Business Support ‘Rural Journalist of the Year’, Cassandra Steeth was runner-up in the IFAJ/Rabobank award for ‘Best Audio Story’ announced in Pretoria.

Cassandra’s runner-up audio story was a gritty documentary on the conflicting emotions of farmers faced with a feral deer problem.  It originally aired in 2016 on ABC Radio National’s ‘Off Track’ program.

Audio of Cassandra Steeth’s runner-up IFAJ audio story award can be found at:

Pictured in Pretoria receiving her IFAJ runner-up ‘audio story’ award is Cassandra Steeth with two officials from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists

Changing of the Rural Guard at the Advertiser (March 2017)

Following a forty year career in writing about the Australian agricultural sector, including 27 years at News Corporation, The Advertiser’s Rural Editor Nigel Austin decided late last year that it was time to leave behind the world of daily newspaper journalism.

His new direction in life is now the pursuit of a long-held dream to focus full-time on continuing his authorship of books focused on country Australia.

In leaving The Advertiser, Nigel said his career in the newspaper industry had been a truly interesting and fulfilling one, providing ample opportunity to meet an array of wonderful people.

Nigel Austin started writing about rural Australia at the Melbourne based Stock and Land publication in 1977 and since that time, there were few parts of the country that he didn’t visit.  His travels, many articles and the various books he wrote gave Nigel a rare insight into the lives of the people of rural Australia.

He won numerous national writing awards including the Henry Lawson Award, the Dalgety Farmers Award and various media awards in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Nigel also considered himself to have been fortunate to be awarded several overseas study scholarships to the United States, Japan and the European Union during his career.

As one of the longest serving rural journalists in Australia, Nigel Austin’s time in the industry provided inspiration to many.  In return, he expressed gratitude for the personal support received from Australian farmers and the rural sector in general.

Replacing Nigel Austin as The Advertiser and Sunday Mail’s Rural Editor has been award winning reporter, Belinda Willis.  Growing up in the Riverland and with a media career spanning over twenty years, her background was as senior business and environment reporter, including stints with the BBC and Discovery Networks.

Belinda Willis had also been media adviser to a former federal environment minister.

A highlight of her career was a high commendation in the prestigious Walkley Awards’ “best suburban, country or rural report category”.

Former Advertiser Rural Editor, Nigel Austin

Upcoming meetings

Rural Media South Australia aims to provide a genuine focus for rural issues, combined with a forum for networking between the highest levels of agribusiness, government, media and rural producers.

Members and guests are encouraged to note the following dates in their diaries:

2018 Meetings

Friday 27th July 2018

RMSA AGM & Tribute function for retiring RMSA President, Ian Doyle
(Evening Cocktail Reception 6.00 pm)
(Board Room/Secretarys Office, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Wednesday 8th August 2018

Charlie Arnot - US Centre for Food integrity
Deanna Lush - AgCommunicators

"Building trust in agriculture with non-ag audiences"
(Breakfast 7.00 am for 7.30 am)
(Goyder Mezzanine, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Thursday 6 September 2018

2018 RMSA Rural Bank Royal Show Breakfast
(Breakfast 7.00 am for 7.30 am)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Friday 7 December 2018

2018 RMSA SA Rural Media Awards & Christmas Function
(Luncheon 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)