When Mark Pearson died in June of a heart attack, the condolences poured in from throughout the state. Everyone from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ordinary Iowa farmers and state fair lovers offered words of comfort.
After all, the popular 54-year-old Pearson had been the longtime host of Iowa Public Television’s “Market to Market” show and WHO Radio’s “The Big Show,” in addition to hosting Iowa State Fair programs each year.
People immediately wondered who could possibly replace him on the “Market to Market” show? Who would understand Iowa and the role of agriculture as well?
How about Pearson’s son, Mike, a 2010 Simpson College graduate?
“I was really flattered when they asked,” Mike Pearson says. “I was kind of blown away. I hadn’t really considered it.”
The more he thought about it, the more he realized that the show “is kind of the closest thing we have to a family business. Dad had a stock brokerage office, but really the family business was talking to farmers about agriculture. The opportunity to continue that was just too good to pass up.”
John Nichols, executive producer of the “Market to Market” series, told the Des Moines Register that Pearson has “substantial knowledge of farming and a keen understanding of rural issues.”
He received that education while representing the sixth generation of Pearsons to farm. Mike grew up on the family farm south of Winterset in East Peru.
“That’s where I got my hands-on farm experience,” he says.
He worked for WOI radio in the farm market department from 2005 to 2007, “and that was a nice introduction to the grain and futures market.”
He then returned to school, majoring in history at Simpson.
“I would say going to Simpson helped me a lot,” he says. “The things you learn as a history major is how to ask questions and how to interpret things. That’s all the futures market is, interpreting what effect the weather in the Ukraine is going to have on crop prices here. It certainly helped me in that regard.”
There are some aspects to the job for which college did not prepare him.
“It was sort of hard to read the Teleprompter at first,” he says. “But the folks at Iowa Public Television have made it as easy as possible.”
When he’s not on the air, Pearson works as an agriculture, commercial and mortgage lender for Lincoln Savings Bank in Grinnell. He lives there with his wife, Heidi.