by Carey D. Martin
Regnal Wallace, former broadcaster and Information Director for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation passed away today at his home in Crowville after a brief illness. He was 81.
Wallace is considered the original "Voice of Louisiana Agriculture." He was the founding broadcaster of the Louisiana Agri-News Radio Network and the creator and host of the weekly television show "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture," which still runs in syndication today after 34 years.
Growing up on his family’s cotton farm in Franklin Parish, Reg always understood the importance of agriculture. His father and his brother were farmers and it was the proceeds from the annual cotton crop that helped send him to Louisiana Baptist College after two years in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s.
In the summer of 1969 he was hired by the late Farm Bureau President James Graugnard to run the company’s public relations department. Reg had been a sportscaster for KALB-TV 5 in Alexandria when he decided to make the move to public relations.
Having grown up on the farm, Wallace knew that sometimes farmers and ranchers were under-appreciated in their tasks of feeding us day in, day out. His desire to create a television program that would, in his words, “tell the farmers’ story,” would go on to become the longest running, locally produced television program in all of Louisiana. And it all started with a man who knew deep down that agriculture had a story to tell and that we should all be thankful for the work farmers and ranchers do on our behalf season after season, good years and bad.
"Reg had a real passion for telling the farmer's story," said Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson. "He had a cutting-edge vision and he used media in a way that no one else had done at the time. He was a true friend of the farmer and a friend of Farm Bureau," Anderson added. "He will be missed by many."
Don Molino, senior farm broadcaster for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-News Radio Network and long-time friend who for six years co-hosted TWILA, said he learned a lot from Wallace about the importance of farm news.
“Reg taught me a lot,” Molino said. “He was definitely a pioneer in farm broadcasting because there was a time when he was the only farm voice out there. I’m proud to call him my friend and colleague.”
Wallace retired from Farm Bureau in 1997 after a 28 year career. He then proceeded to begin his second career after moving back to the house he grew up in outside of Crowville.
He was sought out by Tom Gay Jr., the owner of KMAR radio in Winnsboro, and persuaded to go back on the air with a daily farm program. That program, ‘Round Franklin," would be heard across Northeast Louisiana for the next 16 years.
The Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-News Network is still in operation, broadcasting daily farm reports on 28 radio stations across Louisiana. "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture" is still produced each week and is aired on 20 television stations and cable systems across Louisiana, in addition to being broadcast nationwide on the cable channel RFD-TV and viewed around the world on YouTube. The Louisiana Farm Bureau Information and Public Relations department continues to tell the Louisiana Farmer's story through print, radio, video, social media and other online platforms.
The original "Voice of Louisiana Agriculture" is now silent, but his legacy will live on through the pioneering outreach media he created.