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Montana Public Radio, UM College of Business win Regional Murrow Award For 'Fireline'

Murrow award winner logo

Montana Public Radio and UM's College of Business have been awarded a Regional Murrow Award for Fireline, a podcast about what wildfire means for the west, our planet and our way of life.

The Murrow awards are among the most respected awards given to journalists. Murrow Award winning stories put public interest above all else and embody the values, principles and standards set forth by Edward R. Murrow, a journalism pioneer who set the standards for the highest quality of broadcast journalism.

“Winning this Regional Murrow award is a tremendous honor," host Justin Angle says. "Our goal was to help people understand the complexity of wildfire: the effects of climate change, policy and practice, as well as leave listeners with tangible actions they can take to be a part of the solution.”

A grid of logos from individual Fireline episodes.

Fireline, a six-part series, examines the causes and consequences of the increasingly devastating wildfires burning in the U.S. It taps into the experience of firefighters on the ground, Salish and Kootenai tribal land managers bringing natural fire back to the landscape and climate scientists sounding the alarm about increasing wildfire risk.

Fireline was produced as a collaboration between the UM College of Business and Montana Public Radio. The podcast is hosted by Justin Angle, an associate professor at the UM College of Business. It was produced by Nick Mott of the Peabody Award-winning show Threshold, and Richest Hill, named one of The New Yorker's “must listen” podcasts of 2019. Victor Yvellez served as an editor and reporter for the show.

Fireline will now advance to the National Murrow Award competition.

Fireline probes the causes and consequences of the increasingly devastating wildfires burning in the U.S. It taps into the experience of firefighters, tribal land managers, climate scientists and more to understand how we got here and where we're going.

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  • Tens of millions of people across the West are facing the reality of life in a flammable landscape. When we hear about communities getting wiped out by wildfires, what’s actually going on? Why is it happening? And what can we do about it?
  • The Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI, is where forest and homes meet. It’s the fastest growing land use type in the nation, and also where one in three homes across the country are situated. What’s it mean to live in the WUI, where the stakes of wildfire are higher than anywhere else? And why is this area so vulnerable to fire?
  • There are more than 30,000 people who fight wildfires in the U.S., and about 400 firefighters have died on the job over the last two decades. As fire seasons get longer and fires become more devastating, the physical and mental toll on firefighters themselves is also growing.
  • For millennia, wildfire was part of life in North America. Indigenous people used it for tradition and ceremony, to improve the health of ecosystems, and to assist with hunting and gathering. But the arrival of white settlers marked the beginning of an era in which that knowledge about fire and its role on the landscape was suppressed. Now, Indigenous groups across the country are working to revive tribal relationships with fire.
  • The connection between humans and fire goes back millions of years. What started with campfires and cooking grew into a burning addiction that catalyzed the Industrial Revolution and now shapes nearly every aspect of our society. Now, our ongoing reliance on fire in its many forms is changing the climate with explosive consequences for wildfires — and much more.
  • In 1910, a wildfire the size of Connecticut engulfed parts of Montana, Idaho and Washington. Ed Pulaski and his crew were among the many people trapped by the enormous blaze. The Big Burn, as it came to be known, helped propel a culture of fire suppression that still persists in many forms. What does that massive fire mean for the way our society deals with the wildfires of today?