It’s a bittersweet moment at Montana Public Radio today. After five years, Eric Whitney has decided to step down as MTPR news director and move on to a great job with NPR. Eric will soon be the NPR bureau chief for 10 Rocky Mountain and Great Plains states including Montana. He says he will, "be an editor who works with reporters based at NPR member stations and helps them get their stories on network shows, including Morning Editing and All Things Considered." Eric is not going far for his job. He’ll be based in Missoula but will be travelling a bit more, he says.
When I started as the new station manager three years ago, I was so thankful to have Eric running the news department. I’ve never met a more ethical journalist and thoughtful leader. Eric oversaw the expansion of the news department. We added full-time reporters in the Flathead and in Butte under his watch. And boy did they deliver.
We have Eric to thank for his team’s award-winning coverage of public lands, politics and the Legislature, wildfires and health care to name just a few. His leadership established two outstanding news podcasts, SubSurface and Richest Hill, that have taken Montana stories around the country and the world. He’s created a terrific relationship with our partners at Yellowstone Public Radio bringing even more Montana news to our listeners.
Eric always did what needed to be done for MTPR. He was a great team leader, an expert editor, a mentor to student journalists from UM and always a forward thinker. Eric was the person who worked nearly every holiday so the rest of his news team could take time off. He was always on the look-out for training opportunities to make his team better reporters, writers, editors and storytellers. He would work long hours with his reporters to make their stories better for all of us.
MTPR will begin a national search for a new news director very soon. Please know that we remain committed to solid and strong Montana news coverage for all of you. I will keep you updated as we move through the process of finding a new leader for the MTPR news team.
So while I’m sad for all of us at MTPR, I’m so excited and happy for Eric and this outstanding opportunity with NPR. I’m happy he’ll continue to work with our reporters to get their stories out to the rest of the country. And I hope Eric gets more time to spend cross country skiing this winter too.
Thanks Eric! And thanks to all of you for your support of MTPR.