Longtime Rural Missouri Editor Jim McCarty discusses the history of the magazine with OzarksWatch Video Magazine.
Rural Missouri began in January 1948 when the first issue was sent to more than 90,000 rural people as the Rural Electric Missourian. Talk of establishing a statewide publication began in 1945, when Boone Electric Cooperative Manager L.L. Anderson suggested the idea after seeing similar publications in Wisconsin and Illinois. His efforts would not bear fruit for three years, due to the paper shortage caused by World War II.
Editor Homer Hill wrote the following in the inaugural issue:
“Since member-consumers own the electric co-ops, the Missourian is your paper and will be devoted to your interest. The Missourian will bring you items of interest about your REA neighbors throughout the state. It will bring factual stories on how the electric servant aids farm production, homemaking, education and health — how it saves labor, cuts costs and makes for a fuller life for young and old. It will tell of new things in electric farming and electric living. It will be a trading post for your ideas and those of other farm folk. To enable you to protect the great cooperative enterprise you have built, the Missourian will expose any interests that seek to hinder or destroy it, irrespective of where they are found. As we begin the new year, the Missourian pledges itself to work with co-op members in their efforts to keep the lights burning in their own homes and to extend them to another 120,000 farmers awaiting them.”
Electricity was new to those early readers, so the publication included stories about new electrically powered devices and ways to use electricity on the farm. Those early issues devoted as much space to teach farmers how to use electricity as they did blasting critics of the rural electrification program.
Over the years the mission of this publication has evolved. In 1978 the name was changed to Rural Missouri to reflect our new focus on rural living. Our role today is to keep the lines of communication open between you and the electric co-op that serves you. Along the way, we hope to give credit to those unsung heroes living in the hills and hollers of this place called rural Missouri.
In 2018, Rural Missouri transitioned from their traditional newsprint paper stock to a glossy paper that is printed in Missouri. The magazine made another change in 2020, switching from a tabloid size to a more traditional, magazine-sized publication.
We’ve always been one to root for the underdog, and rural Missouri, even today, fits that role like an old shoe. If the efforts of the Rural Missouri staff make our little piece of the world a better place in which to live, then we have succeeded in our jobs.
Today Rural Missouri is delivered to more than 570,000 rural homes, farms and businesses. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we do putting it together. Thanks for welcoming us into your homes.