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Benton native TV co-host on Small Town Big Deal

 
BY RICK HAYES
STAFF WRITER
Posted on 2/5/2016, 3:06 PM

BENTON — A Benton native, Rodney Miller, has gone from being a small town farmer to a nationally syndicated television host.

Miller grew up in Benton before moving to Duluth, Ga., to head up McCormick International, a global tractor manufacturer as its CEO. Miller left the company in 2010 to start up an independent television production company, following his passion for telling inspiring stories of "the little guy" who overcomes adversity. He also injects his sense of humor with show segments like the National Hollerin' Contest or the tug-of-war match across the Mississippi River.

Miller teamed up with national television news anchor from Entertainment Tonight, Jann Carl to create the popular family television show, "Small Town Big Deal." The show premiered in September 2012 on RFD. The show can be seen locally on KBSI, Fox 23, based in St. Louis, at 6 a.m. on Sundays.

In a show that aired recently, Miller brought Carl back to his hometown of Benton for the annual Tractor Drive. Townspeople gather at the shopping center in West City and then travel down country roads on tractors. The show featured legendary basketball coach Rich Herrin, who brought in several of his players from Morthland College to play a pickup game with Miller and Carl at Redbird Gym in West Frankfort. The show also highlighted Miller's younger basketball playing days, with vignettes from several of his teammates at Akin Grade School. The Benton segment re-aired at 9:30 a.m on Jan. 31.

Miller recently came back to Benton for his 40th high school reunion and took a ribbing from classmates.

In an article in the Atlanta Constitution, Miller states, "People said, "You"re the last one we would"ve guessed would end up on TV." "

Carl, after 14 years with Entertainment Tonight, happened to view one of Miller's earliest shows and was captivated.

"It was the show I had wanted to do my entire life," she stated. After reaching out, she joined Miller in time for the show's second season.

Small Town Big Deal originally aired on cable station RFD, where it grew into one of that station's most popular rated programs. With its recent syndication in markets across the country, the show now reaches over three-fourths of the nation.

"Small Town Big Deal showcases the heritage of our nation, the power of its dreamers and pay tribute to the unsung heroes," Carl stated. "The stories remind us that national treasures are often found where least expect them."

Among Small Town's biggest fans is Atlanta-based restaurant Chick-fil-A, who is partnering with the program as its corporate sponsor.

Carl and Miller both claim country roots and say their Midwestern values continue to guide them. Their chemistry and connection with the fabric of American life has been credited as the driving success behind their show.

Miller and his wife Kendra, bought a 43-acre farm 225 miles south of Atlanta in Ocilla, Ga. He keeps many of his 30-plus antique tractors there and he operates a corn maze each fall on land he owns with friends in Buford, Ga.

Small Town Big Deal is distributed by The Television Syndication Company Inc. of Longwood, Fla., and is seen in nearly 80 percent of the country, including flagship network affiliate WABC in New York.

For more information about the show you can visit the website at www.SmallTownBigDeal.com.


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