For the last 20+ years (since June of 1999) Kim Lemmon and Matt Reese have worked with owner and publisher Bart Johnson at the OCJ.

20 years??

By Matt Reese

I recently had a rare couple of free hours and some jobs to do around the house. I got my laptop out and clicked on my music list to enjoy some tunes while I worked. Things were going great. I was rocking out and getting stuff done for about three songs before it happened.

I am not especially tech savvy, and a few weeks prior I had plugged my phone into my computer to transfer a file and I unknowingly transferred many of the audio interviews I have done in my career over to my laptop. They intermingled with my music. As a result, my randomly selected mix of songs now includes randomly selected interviews I had conducted with countless farmers and agribusiness professionals from years gone by.

The first interview started playing over my laptop speaker and I sort of groaned. I stopped what I was doing (I think it was caulking the shower) and went to skip to the next song so I could resume rocking out and tackling more chores. It wasn’t more than two songs later that another interview came on, and I repeated the process. This time though, there were three interviews in a row in the random queue that I needed to skip before finding a song.

I repeated this process a couple more times and was weeding the front flowerbed when another interview came on. I started to stop what I was doing to skip the interview and get to the next song.

“Ha! This one is pretty good,” I said out loud to myself.

In the audio file that was playing, I was talking with Quinton Keeran                                                                                     a few years back when he worked at the Ohio Pork Council. We were chatting about the wonders of bacon. I let it play.

Next on the playlist were back-to-back interviews I had done with Between the Rows farmers who were reporting on the weather at the time. One was too wet and planting was stalled. The next was a report of strong yields during harvest in northwest Ohio. I kept weeding the garden and listened, fondly remembering the great conversations I’d had and the friends I had made with each new interview that played.

I took out the trash, emptied the dishwasher, Gorilla Glued a broken toy, cleaned the garage, and changed the oil in the lawnmower all while letting the audio — interview or song — play. Each new interview I heard took me back to the time and situation it was conducted. Some were during great times of incredible commodity prices. Others were more somber when times were lean on the farm. They included great victories and great challenges within Ohio’s agriculture. All of the interviews were different, but they were all the same in that they involved someone using their valuable time to share their insights with me. So many of Ohio’s farmers have shared their stories, their farms and their legacies with me. So many others have taken their time to read the words I have written based on those interviews.

How incredibly humbling…

It does not quite seem like yesterday (maybe more like last week) when I started my job as assistant editor for Ohio’s Country Journal 20 years ago this month: June of 1999. The current managing editor Kim Lemmon and I started within days of each other and still work together today. It is a wonder she has tolerated me all of these years. Bart and Sheryl Johnson very kindly took a chance on both of us way back then and we have been through some incredible changes over two decades. We went from 12 issues a year, to 18 issues a year to 24 issues a year. The covers were glossy when we started. They are newsprint now. We lost our leader, a pioneer in agricultural communication, Ed Johnson, in 2001, but we have worked hard to maintain his vision and passion for showcasing Ohio’s agriculture.

Back when I started this job, print was my sole focus. Today the instant news and constant potential for updates on the Internet dominates much of my time. We didn’t even have a website when I started in 1999. There are now more mediums for us to be “Ohio’s Source for Ag Information” than ever before and it creates new challenges, but also incredible (and fun) opportunities to reach readers and listeners.

Soon I was lost in thought about the incredible journey over the last 20 years so many of you have shared with me. I stood at the sink, half-heartedly trying to fix the wobbly handle, listening to an interview I’d done with a young hog showman. My fingers were a bit sticky from the Gorilla Glue and my eyes were a bit misty as that interview wrapped up. Thanks to the many, many fantastic people who have played a role in my time here at Ohio’s Country Journal. It has been a truly incredible 20 years — a dream come true. I’m looking forward to many more great interviews for OCJ moving forward.

A raucous rock song came up next on my playlist. I stopped what I was doing and walked over to my computer to skip it.

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  1. Congratulations, Matt! What a geezer ;).

  2. Happy Work Anniversary! You’re just getting started.

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