I recently had a chance to speak with Ernie Rodina of "Better Horses Radio" (www.betterhorsesradio.com). His passion for the horse industry drew him to the airwaves, and his show is well worth a listen.
“I always admired Western life from as long as I remember,” he says. “We had a pony in the neighborhood, and I got involved in 4H.” Rodina, 56, graduated from Kansas’ Ottawa University in 1977 and has been working as an account manager for Purina Mills in eastern Kansas and western Missouri since 1978.
Purina Mills was a sponsor of Jim Campbell and the “Horseman’s Radio Weekly,” but when Campbell took ill, Rodina stepped in and started a similar horse-focused radio show. The result, “Better Horses Radio,” is now in its seventh year and reaches approximately 30 FM and AM stations in Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia. (Other sponsors include B&W Hitch, Priefert Ranch Equipment, SafeGuard, and Twister Trailer.)
“I developed the show to enhance my relationships with the community and help people with their horses,” he says. Down home and family-oriented, each show is 54 minutes long, with six minutes for advertising from local affiliates. Rodina and co-host Dawn Dawson present technical training tips, equine health information, special interest stories, and event listings.
“Each show opens with a prayer,” he explains about his folksy delivery. “It sets the tone and tells people what we’re all about.”
And Rodina is an equal opportunity horseman—the show covers every equine discipline there is, from tips on driving horses and raising miniatures to competing with reining horses and racing thoroughbreds. There are even helpful tips for cattle ranchers. He also records segments for the show at 50 events a year, including the Working Ranch Cowboy Association fundraiser he lead last year for the Working Ranch Cowboy Foundation.
Rodina’s “Better Horses Radio” (along with Rick Lamb’s “The Horse Show,” www.thehorseshow.com) is pretty much the only voice regularly advocating for horses and the equine lifestyle on radio. And he keeps it cowboy by reading from the Roy Rogers’ Cowboy Code to the tune of “Happy Trails.” He’s even developed Garrison Keillor-esque sign off: “Be good buckaroos and buckarettes.”
“My goal is to try to help folks enjoy their horses, whether they have one horse or 101,” Rodina says. Mission accomplished.