The Voice of the Internet

Orion "The Big O" Samuelson might be a national treasure, but he's a Midwestern icon. He is best known for hosting the U.S. Farm Report and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2003. But those of us who grew up in the Chicagoland area know him as the first person we ever heard say, "pork bellies." He was the guy on that radio station old people listened to. Our parents or grandparents would have it playing on the clock radio in the kitchen every morning and sometimes all day long. What do these old people have to say that's so important they can talk about it all day long?

Well, time changes everything, except The Big O. Now almost 80 years old, he’s still going strong and still one of the signature voices on WGN radio ( in Chicago. He now covers agriculture, as well as financial matters of other persuasions. I know this because I’ve reached that age where I am now one of those “old people” who listens to WGN. Yes, eventually, we all become our parents.

So, the other morning, I was driving in to work and listening to Orion give his morning assessment of all things agricultural and financial, and at the end he shared a bit of the industry wisdom he’d gained from a career in media that has lasted more than 50 years.

He explained how much he preferred the process of holding a newspaper in his hands to get his financial news in the morning, so he could flip through the pages and read what he wanted to read. He said he didn’t like digital content because he didn’t want his computer selecting what information he received. He wanted to do that himself by having the freedom to look through the whole newspaper.

Do I even need to go into an explanation of why that is so cute and disturbing at the same time?

Digital content is all about freedom and interaction. You can choose whatever you want to read or hear or view. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a publisher to have it printed and then delivered to you. It’s instantly available.

Here, for example, is a brilliant blog about an energy-storage breakthrough written by my colleague and one of my favorite writers, Stanton McGroarty:

You can read it or not, but all you have to do is click on the link and you’re there. Digital content is all about freedom. No one selects what you can and can’t read. That’s actually what happens in print publications. An editor selects what goes in there, and that’s all you get. On the Internet, you can go anywhere to get your information. And you can add your own comments. In fact, we have a new commenting system on our blogs. Right here. Right now.

Try it. It’s incredibly easy. Just click where it says, “Register,” below and then type a username and an email address. Bingo! You’re registered and you can comment on The Big O or maintenance practices or my incessant rambling. Again, it's your choice.

Better yet, click on the link I gave you, read Stanton McGroarty’s blog on how graphene-based supercapacitors might change the energy-storage game, and then comment on that. Don’t just listen to voices. Be a voice.


Read Mike Bacidore's monthly column, From the Editor, online at