While farming is the ultimate outdoors job, farmers spend a lot of time in confined spaces. So what do they do while sitting in the cabs of tractors, combines and grain trucks? Or while working in the shop?
Not surprisingly, it varies, not just from person to person, but within one farm.
“We don’t listen to much music,” said Larry Johnson, who farms near Carlyle in Clinton County, Illinois. “I listen to some talk radio. I’d rather be listening to a Cardinals baseball game.”
Jon Freeman, who farms at Murrayville, in Morgan County, isn’t locked in to one station.
“I have a variety,” he said. “I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. We have a station around here that plays classic rock. Sometimes I listen to farm radio.”
Leon Adams, who farms at Bonnie, in Jefferson County, doesn’t consider himself avant-garde.
“We fit into the boring category,” he said. “I listen to talk radio or some sort of commentary. Sometimes I listen to podcasts. A lot of guys around here put their earbuds in and do their own thing.”
As with those in other professions, farmers differ not only in their taste in music, but in the way it is played. To old-timers like Vernon Mayer, listening to anything other than a humming engine is relatively new.
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“We didn’t even have a tractor with an enclosed cab until 1983,” said Mayer, who farms in Perry County. “It did have a radio.”
When he is in the cab today he generally listens to talk radio on a St. Louis station. His three sons, on the other hand, usually tune the radio to music stations.
Technological advances have changed how farmers can access music and information. Alex Lock, who farms in Louisville, in Clay County, Illinois, is among the younger generation who eschew radio stations altogether.
“I usually listen to Pandora streaming through my phone,” he said. “That’s typically what we do. Everyone has what they want to listen to. There are a lot of channels. You can access it through Bluetooth in the vehicle. I usually listen to country or some light rock.”
Adams said his playlist is bland.
“I don’t listen to Swedish death metal or anything,” he joked.
Despite the myriad choices of content and delivery, sometimes farmers prefer to let nature speak to them.
“Sometimes I’ll listen to a good farm show,” Johnson said. “Or just shut the thing off and do some daydreaming.”
“Sometimes it’s pretty nice to have some peace and quiet,” he said.