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Names in the News: Doug Stephan

Published on 17 October 2014

Names in the News

Doug Stephan owns and operates Eastleigh Farms in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. His herd is made up of Jerseys plus a few Ayrshires and Guernsey-Jersey crosses.

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Doug also runs several radio programs. In the Aug. 20 episode of “Doug Stephan’s Good Day,” Doug participated in a unique way in the popular ice bucket challenge to raise funds for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association.

The ice bucket challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to raise awareness of ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Participants in the August fad commonly nominated several other people to participate in the challenge. Progressive Dairyman talked with Doug about the unique way he participated in the challenge, and why he did it on the air.

How did you get into radio?
I had a New England accent you could cut with a knife. On my website, there is a Video of the Day that focuses on a lady running a program to help people lose their New England accent.

I didn’t have the benefit of that when I was a kid, so when I went to school in the Midwest, in a rural farming community, I was teased a lot about my New England accent. Somebody said, “Why don’t you go to the radio station? The guys there may help you listen to yourself and hear how horrible it sounds. That’ll break you of it right then and there.”

I took his advice. I went to the radio station; I talked to the then-student manager; he said, “Yeah, seems like an interesting idea. Let’s see if I can help you.” He had me sit down and I talked for a while, and he said, “You got an interesting gift for gab. If you could lose that New England accent, you could come over and do some work on the student radio station.”

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So I did, and I did, and I did. That’s the bare-bones story of how I started.

Doug Stephan

What got you to do the ice bucket challenge?
I thought it was a great event. I think it is one of the few national, or maybe the best, frankly. Most of the national charities are bogus, in my opinion, what they do with the money, etc., etc., etc. Helping the ALS thing I thought would be a good idea.

I thought, I’m not going to use water, I’m going to use the milk from the cows. If you saw the video of it, you saw the cows in the background, and it sort of added a little spice and made it a little more fun, I thought.

Why did you use milk?
Well, because it called attention to a different substance. It made it fit in terms of my own dairy, and because I spend a lot of time in California and there’s been a lot of focus on the drought there, and I thought calling attention to the drought, not that it’s going to do anything to help, necessarily. Save water where you can, use milk.

After you dump the milk in the video, you ask, ‘Can I take my clothes off out here?’ so you wouldn’t track milk back into your house. Did you get the milk out of your clothing?
If you’ve been around dairying in your life at all, you know that milk, once it gets into your clothing, is something that’s hard to get out. As soon as I was done, I took the clothes off, put them in the washer – but it took a couple of wash cycles to get the smell out.

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I don’t object to the smell, though. In the initial round, it’s pretty stinky. I took a shower afterwards and I really had to work at washing my hair and cleaning it off. But it’s a very familiar smell, so it doesn’t bother me.

You challenged Don Imus, Uri Geller, Mancow Muller and Bill Bennet. Did they take you up on it?
None of them took me up on my challenge to use milk. We all know each other in this world. Uri and I are great friends. He told me he doesn’t do that stuff, no matter what it is, as a matter of course.

I knew that anyways, thought I’d give him a little plug. As far as Bennet is concerned, I could never imagine him or Imus doing it. I could imagine Mancow doing it. He’s a pretty good sport; he’s in the Midwest.

That they didn’t respond – that’s OK. The day I did that is the day that ALS took in the most money in the campaign thus far. I won’t take credit for it, but it’s sort of a nice coincidence.

Mancow did do it.
Oh, did he! I didn’t know that. But I know the other two guys would never do it.

ice bucket challenge

Did the ice bucket challenge have a personal significance to you?
No, it doesn’t, actually. I don’t know anybody who’s been through this; I don’t know anybody who’s had it. When I promoted them on my radio program, the lady who runs the organization was on with me for a few minutes and we talked about what they did, and I had checked them out, as most people would do.

No secrets anymore – you can check almost all of this stuff out online pretty easily. And they have a great reputation, they need a lot of money, and they were only trying to raise a million dollars with this. I think that to date they’ve raised $100 million, in fact.

Have you made any new connections or had any new experiences as a result of doing the Ice Bucket of Milk challenge?
Nothing directly. I may have encouraged some people. A lot of ag states and areas carry my program. A lot of people like that I’m a dairy farmer in addition to being a broadcaster, so I hear from those people from time to time. PD

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