There’s a good chance you’re reading this post from somewhere in a town or a city, and that for the past 10 years or so, you’ve watched television shows about urban doctors and suburban housewives, metropolitan models and cosmopolitan chefs.
But what about those MNN readers who don’t live in a city or a town — what are the farmers and ranchers throughout the villages of rural America watching? Want a hint? It’s a 24-hour rural cable network with viewers watching weekly in 13 million American homes, according to the New York Times. Want another hint? It’s about one-fifth the size of country-music focused CMT. Called RFD-TV (Rural Free Delivery TV), the network offers a broad lineup of shows in four categories including Agriculture, Equine, Music & Entertainment and Rural Lifestyle.
Serious agricultural programming such as Ag-PhD promises to help farmers ”put more grain in your bin and more money in your pocket,” but non-farmers are taken into consideration, too — the first few minutes of each Ag-PhD episode introduces “a common farming practice, put in language the non-farmer can understand.”
Lifestyle programming covers everything from quilting and cooking to coal trains and rodeo, and whole blocks of Music & Entertainment programming are devoted to bluegrass and country music. Reruns of Hee Haw, you ask? They’ve got those, too. In fact, when RFD-TV both participated in and broadcast (a first) the 120th Tournament of Roses Parade live from Pasadena in January 2009, they made their way down the parade route in a "Hee Haw" float replete with a pink strawflower pig, a cotton-covered sheep, and the iconic red barn, all set upon a cornfield stage.
The Omaha, Neb.-based channel for farmers, which had a slow and rocky start that spanned two decades, now reaches 40 million homes in more than 20 countries and is adding staff, introducing original programs, and launching new networks such as Britain-based Rural TV.