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One of life's regrets

Al Gustin, author

Al Gustin

We sang “Morning Has Broken” in church on Sunday. Whenever I hear that song, I’m reminded of my early days in television. In addition to my farm reporting duties, I was the “morning anchor.” I did news and weather updates before and during the “Today Show,” which started at 7 a.m.

Sometime in the late 1970s, a new morning program was added. It was called “Country Day” and it ran ahead of the “Today Show.” It was nothing like my morning programming. The host was Steve Edstrom. Coming out of a commercial break, he’d be wide-eyed and grinning, playing a piano. No suit and tie for this guy.

“Country Day” included some serious reporting, but mostly it had a lighter feel to it. It included in-studio guests and visits to crop and livestock farms. Those visits weren’t keyed to some “hard news” development (like my farmer interviews were). They were just visits about life on the farm, about kids and their ponies.

When “Country Day” became our 6:30 a.m. show, my first update was moved to 6:25 a.m. Eventually, that update was expanded to 15 minutes. Since it preceded “Country Day,” we called it “Country Morning.” I did try to give “Country Morning” a softer tone, but it was still farm news, markets, news and weather.

But I would watch “Country Day” and wish that I could anchor a program like that. I wished that I could be as at ease in front of a camera as Steve Edstrom. I wished my programs were more about “life on the farm” and not so much about the “business of farming.”

And if I could have created and formatted such a program, and if I were the host, I thought the song that would open the show would be “Morning Has Broken.” Consider these lyrics: “Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.” Or these: “Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven. Like the first dewfall, on the first grass.”

Can’t you just see the accompanying video – the blackbird, the rain, the wet grass? Can’t you just feel the pleasant way it would have started the day? That’s how I wanted to start people’s days, not with the latest hard news. My wish never came true, but I still think about it when I hear “Morning has Broken.” A blessed country morning Christmas to you.

Al Gustin is a retired farm broadcaster, active rancher and a member of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative.