Call of the Land at the Royal Alberta Museum

  From the November 5, 2018 issue of Agri-News
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 Visitors to the new Royal Alberta Museum experience exhibits that chronicle the history of the province’s people, animals, and landscapes – and now Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s daily radio program, Call of the Land. Pat Myers, historian at RAM, outlines why the radio program is featured with its own display.

“I was looking for stories that touched on important points in Alberta’s history,” explains Myers. “For me, Call of the Land was one of those stories because it started in the 1950s when Alberta was changing. The province was becoming more urbanized. Oil was having a much larger part in the economy, and the government of the day did not want to leave rural society behind. So, Call of the Land was one way to get information out to the rural population, out to farm families. The second reason was that we were looking for strong voices to carry some of our stories, and Jack Howell fit that bill.”

Howell hosted Call of the Land for 36 years until his retirement in 2006, producing more than 7,000 programs. He says that he was initially surprised the museum wanted to create a display for the program. “I think with what they came up with, they did a pretty good job. There are interactive buttons in the front of the display and you can hear me introducing some of the guests that we had over the years, as well as talking a little bit about the history of the program, why it started, and so on.”

“Jack did a wonderful interview with us,” adds Myers. “As well, I found in the Provincial Archives, recordings of the shows and some of the scripts for shows that he had done. We were able to put together some fantastic audio programs for the visitors, so they could revisit this period of Call of the Land.”

The display also features some of the vintage radio equipment used over the years. “It’s amazing what you find when you start rooting around,” she says. “We have some tape recorders that Jack used. We have what was called a portable recorder back then. People will be surprised by its size. We have the mics, and we have the little instrument that told you how fast your tape was running so you would be broadcasting it at the right speed. We have a hat that Jack got at one of the research fairs he attended. So, it all comes together as a full story.”

Myers adds that she sees visitors looking at this display, talking a lot about how the technology has changed and how the issues have not. “I have watched people listen to all the audio segments. They are talking about how the issues really haven’t changed, and what was news or what were problems then are still many of the same things we struggle with today.”

Read more about the Royal Alberta Museum. Now in its sixty-fifth year, Call of the Land can be heard Monday through Friday across the province on more than 20 radio stations, as well as with a mobile app, podcast, and online.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Christine Chomiak.
This information published to the web on October 30, 2018.