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An update from General Manager Ray Ekness

Ray Ekness is the director of the Broadcast Media Center.

As the summer turns to fall here in western Montana, I’m happy that we’ve been a place you can turn to as this rollercoaster of an ongoing pandemic continues. We’re proud to be here for you with the trusted news and information you need, the wonderfully entertaining, hand- picked music shows and the informational offerings you find on MTPR. And most of all, we thank YOU for your continued financial support.

Our news team remains busy with what has been an active and smoky fire season across our state while also covering the ongoing pandemic and its effect on Montana communities. We’re excited to share that, with support from the Otto Bremer Trust, we will be adding two new reporters: one based in Great Falls and one in Butte. We look forward to increasing our capacity to deliver news from across our state on important topics that effect your daily life. Also, a second season of the collaborative project Shared State is already in the planning stages. We hope to share the new season with you this spring. Our partnerships with Montana Free Press and Yellowstone Public Radio continue to enhance our news offerings – something we know you value on this station.

All of us have appreciated the beloved MTPR music programs crafted by our own hosts as this unique year again showed us how important music is to our lives. Music lifts our spirits, expresses our joy, and even helps us mourn. Music affects us deeply; we feel passionate about it. MTPR is your everyday source for extraordinary and powerful music shows—many of them from your favorite local music hosts and our great national partners. Through the stories and songs on our children’s programs, kids (and adults!) can learn about emotions and how to better understand their world and the people in it. Our local programs make this service uniquely Montana and so special to us all.

MTPR’s engineering and IT staff are constantly working to implement the much needed improvements to our technical infrastructure. They are ensuring the best delivery of our signal to you however, and wherever, you access it while also improving internal operations. Imagine the many trips to our mountaintop transmitter sites, working in the crawl spaces beneath our studios, and working with miles and miles of cable. You begin to get a sense of the extremely detailed work our engineers face every day.

Our development team has been busy making sure we meet our fundraising goals so that this service you depend on remains strong. They have worked on new strategies as we adjust to a constantly changing world where connecting with one another can be more challenging. Our first ever over-the-air bake sale this summer was a huge success, helping to keep us on track to meet this year’s fundraising goal of $2.125 million. Our sponsor support team continues to welcome businesses and organizations that have been able to open up and adjust services with the safety of our communities in mind. It’s been a joy talking with our members and sponsors and reconnecting with them in new and different ways.

As we head into the fall and approach our year-end, I wanted to provide you with an update on where we are in terms of meeting our fundraising goal this year. We still have a ways to go to meet our target. With our projection of continued gifts from sustainers, sponsors and other sources, we need to raise $460,000 during our fall drive and year-end giving campaigns. With your help, we will meet these goals and continue to be able to provide this service free-of- charge to everyone who depends on it every day. YOU, our listeners and sponsors, provide the largest portion of revenue for our operations. We are so thankful for the financial support you have been able to provide your local station. You truly are our most important partner!

We know the world is still very different, but you know MTPR will continue to provide a stable and comforting place to turn to everyday for up-to-date information, the facts you need, plus the music to delight and enrich your life. Thank you for being here for us; it’s how we are able to be here for you.

From all of us at the station, thank you!

Ray Ekness was named director of the Broadcast Media Center in August 2016. He’s a former UM School of Journalism professor and department chair of the Department of Radio-Television.