The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists’ international delegate, Leigh Radford (pictured), was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the 2019 Australia Day honours.
“On behalf of the ACAJ and his many friends and colleagues can I take this opportunity to congratulate ‘Captain Rural’ on this thoroughly deserved recognition,” ACAJ president Pete Lewis said.
“It’s terrific to see someone who has made such a positive impact on rural journalism in this country, recognised in our national awards.
“Leigh always brings such a cheerful optimism and genuine consideration to everything he undertakes.
“His generosity and wise counsel are appreciated not just within his state body and nationally via the ACAJ but on a global scale through his valued work on the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).”
The following was provided by Leigh’s brother Drew Radford:
My brother Leigh dedicated his career to ensuring Australian primary producers had access to the most timely and accurate information possible to help them be the most efficient farmers in the world. He also ensured the work farmers did, and their achievements and innovations in feeding the country and beyond, were reported on the national and international stage.
Before Leigh left the ABC he led a team of over 300, he was responsible for iconic radio programs like The Country Hour and TV productions like Landline and Backroads and ground breaking programs like Heywire.
Leigh trained and mentored countless reporters, many who have gone on to become household media names.
The standards he set saw ABC Rural reporters repeatedly awarded as the best in the world by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.
Leigh’s commitment often came at great personal expense, averaging 1 in every 3 nights away from home working with his team in remote corners of Australia. However this is the selfless bloke my brother is and it is reflected in a number of other roles outside of the media, ranging from being president of the SA Geographical society, Chair of the Upper Sturt cemetery to President of the Pulteney Rowing Club.
Leigh has been passionate about the importance of primary production and also giving Rural Australia a voice. This award rightly acknowledges that, sadly though after 75 years of ground-breaking work the former ABC MD disbanded the Rural department and my brother in the process. The largest team of specialised rural reporters in the world is no more, an unfortunate back turning on one of the key economic drivers of this nation. Nonetheless his work lives on through the people he trained and the important stories they continue to tell.
Well done brother, I am in awe of what you have achieved and the community work you continue to do. We are incredibly proud of you and so happy this award acknowledges all the great work you have done and continue to do.
Citation: MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION
Mr Leigh Alexander RADFORD, Crafers SA 5152
For service to the broadcast media in rural and regional areas.
• Head, Rural and National Programs, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Regional, 2015-2017.
• National Editor, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Rural Operations, 2002-2005.
• Executive Producer, South Australia Rural, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1997-
• Presenter, South Australia Country Hour, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, circa
early 1990s until 2005.
• Rural Reporter, Horsham and Port Pirie, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1988.
• President, Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, current.
• President, Rural Media SA, current; Committee member, over 20 years.
• Committee member, Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists, over 10 years.
• Australian Executive, International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, past 7 years.
Awards and recognition
• Honorary Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, ‘for Outstanding leadership and service to regional Australia’, 2016.
• Rural Media SA Icon, ‘for exceptional contribution to the profession of rural journalism’, 2016.
• Recipient, Telstra Journalist of the Year, 1996.
• Recipient, Dalgety Award for Excellence in Rural Journalism, 1992