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Samuelson was born on a dairy farm in Ontario, Wisconsin, near LaCrosse. He considered becoming a Lutheran pastor before deciding on six months of radio school. His early work was based in Wisconsin, at WKLJ in Sparta, WHBY in Appleton, and WBAY-TV/AM in Green Bay. He is best known for his association with WGN Radio in Chicago, serving as the station's head agriculture broadcaster since 1960. Three years into his tenure at WGN, he was the staffer that read the news of the John F. Kennedy assassination. He currently co-hosts (with associate Max Armstrong) the Morning Show on Saturdays. In addition, Samuelson hosts a three-minute daily "National Farm Report", and a weekly commentary, "Samuelson Sez"; both are syndicated to various stations across the country through Tribune Broadcasting's Tribune Radio Network.
In the 1960s, Samuelson hosted an early-morning show on WGN-TV, Top 'O' the Morning, first with organist Harold Turner, then with Armstrong. From 1975 to 2005, Samuelson also was the host of U.S. Farm Report, a weekly television news magazine dedicated to agriculture. He has since retired from that position, with John Phipps replacing him. Samuelson now hosts a similar show, This Week in Agribusiness, on RFD-TV, along with Armstrong.
Politically, Samuelson is a significant supporter of the use of ethanol fuel as derived from corn, as he feels its use will help American farmers. On the lighter side, Samuelson and a studio group dubbed the "Uff da Band" once recorded covers of Yogi Yorgesson's novelty songs I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas and Yingle Bells. Samuelson has held the same job in the broadcasting industry for 50 consecutive years, second only to Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network announcer Vin Scully.
In 2001, Samuelson was named a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and received the Lincoln Medal – the highest award bestowed by the State of Illinois. The University of Illinois also presented Samuelson with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters. Orion Samuelson was honored at the 2010 Wisconsin Corn/Soy Expo in Wisconsin Dells. Samuelson received a specially engraved Norwegian horse plaque to commemorate the occasion from presidents of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, the Wisconsin Soybean Association, the Wisconsin Agri-Services Association and the Wisconsin Pork Association. On December 9th 2010 the southwest corner of E. Illinois Street & N. Cityfront Plaza Drive was named 'Orion Samuelson Way' by the city of Chicago.
Orion is currently the host, along with Max Armstrong, of This Week in AgriBusiness.
- National Radio Hall of Fame, 2003
- American Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service Award, 1998
- 4-H Alumni Award
- Norsk Høstfest Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame