Topic: Politics and Election Coverage
Date Posted: 4/27/2017
Montana Television Network (MTN) held a live debate on April 27 between candidates running to fill former Representative Ryan Zinke’s U.S. House seat. Zinke was tapped by the Trump Administration to serve as Interior Secretary. The debate featured Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks. The debate was streamed on all MTN station websites.
Youth in the community are often the focus of programming on KDBM-AM and KBEV-FM in Dillon, Mont. Once a week, the class president of the local high school interviews fellow students at the studio for the "Beavs in Motion" segment, which gives area kids real-life experience and keeps the community up-to-date on what’s happening at the school. Early every Wednesday morning, when farmers and ranchers are typically tuned in, both stations air a segment featuring children from the Future Farmers of America who share current projects, from raising a steer for the county fair to proper grooming of horses. The stations also broadcast 250 high school and university games, including football, basketball, volleyball and wrestling, throughout the year. In addition, significant airtime is dedicated to the high school and university Rodeo Clubs, including the regular "Rodeo Roundup Show," which features the rodeo instructor from the University of Montana Western twice each week. "We are a small town with a lot of really good kids," said KDBM/KBEV President Jo Ann Juliano. "The kids and their well-being are very important to us."
The Montana Broadcasters Association is sponsoring a debate between Sen. Jon Tester and his challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg on June 24. The debate follows a June 16 debate requested by Tester’s campaign that will include Libertarian candidate Dan Cox.
Mayors, local celebrities, highway and border patrol agents, and announcers from KSEN-AM and KZIN-FM in Shelby, Mont., took turns being hoisted by a crane to scaffolding above the station studio to raise money for the Special Olympics. Money from the stunt, which has been repeated several times over the past seven years, goes to support dozens of local Special Olympians at the games. In 2008, KSEN’s "Stand Up for Special Olympics" event raised $16,500, an amount well over its goal. The station invites the town of 10,000 people to be a part of the fun with a promotional campaign involving recorded spots and talk by the station’s announcers. To bring the excitement surrounding the games to all, KSEN also provides listeners with reports from the Special Olympics Montana Law Enforcement Torch Run, where hundreds of law enforcement representatives run beside Special Olympians in a 2,000 mile relay throughout the state, concluding at the opening ceremonies in Great Falls.
The community to which KOPR-FM in Butte, Mont., broadcasts was devastated when they lost 14-year-old Mariah McCarthy in a hit-and-run by an underage drunk driver. At his daughter’s funeral, Leo McCarthy challenged other teens not to drink. Touched by his words, the station asked permission to help take "Mariah’s Challenge" to the community at large. The effort, known by its logo of pink angel wings, has grown into a foundation headed by Mariah’s parents. A $500 educational scholarship is given to each teen who pledges and fulfills a promise not to drink underage. To date, 7,000 students have signed up for the challenge, and tens of thousands of dollars have been raised. The station, along with its three sister stations, KBOW-AM, KGLM-FM and KANA-AM, supports all "Mariah’s Challenge" events. Mariah’s family and friends have gone on the air to talk about their commitment to prevent similar tragedies. The station created "Butte Tough" public service announcements (PSAs) to support the challenge, which target both youth and adults by asking, "Are you tough enough to say no to underage drinking? Are you tough enough to say no to drinking and driving?" Mariah’s friends and family voice the announcements. "The soul-shattering, heart-shaking PSAs have kept ‘Mariah’s Challenge’ in people’s minds. I am at a loss for words for the guys at KOPR," said McCarthy. The "Butte Tough" campaign was awarded the Montana Broadcasters Association EB Award for best public service.
To help law enforcement catch the bad guys, KTVQ-TV in Billings, Mont., has started airing "Be On the Lookout Alerts." Although less than a year old, this new program has led to the arrest of 16 out of the 20 fugitives featured. U.S. Marshal Dwight McKay voices the alerts, which run once a week on the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. This information is also packaged as public service announcements, which air throughout the week. KTVQ produces the alerts and then feeds them to seven sister stations throughout Montana, making the reach of the alerts statewide. "It has really provided a service to the people in Montana," said KTVQ’s Monty Wallis. "And one capture happened in another state, so this program has even gone beyond state lines."
Topic: Neighbors in Need
Late in the fall, before winter sets in, KMBR-FM in Butte, Mont., encourages its listeners to donate food, warm clothing and money to help those less fortunate. In 2007, the sixth year of the KMBR Helping Hands Clothing Drive, more than 1,500 families in the area were provided necessities. For four weeks, the station ran both live and recorded announcements more than a dozen times a day asking listeners to make donations. Leaders from the Butte Rescue Mission and Butte Cares Inc. were interviewed on the air. On the day items were distributed, General Manager Chris Ackerman gave live reports and the station broadcast announcements encouraging families needing a helping hand to come to the event. After all items had been given away, the station used the power of the airways to thank the Butte community for its generosity. One mother of three small children said that the event provided clothing for her family for an entire year. "A family will come with an empty car and leave with a car filled with clothes, food and smiles," said Ackerman.
Earlier this year, when six Republicans ran for county commissioner with no Democrats as contenders, KLCB-AM in Libby, Mont., hosted all the candidates for an open discussion to help community members make an informed vote. The station aired the more than two-hour meeting live from the Lincoln County Public Library, where the candidates were asked questions from the audience, as well as questions listeners had submitted to the station. During the general election, the station plans to invite local candidates to its studio for debates and to take call-in questions from listeners once again. From local elections to city council meetings to senate field hearings, the two-person staff at KLCB makes sure information that affects the community is accessible to all Kootenai Valley residents. "We try really hard to keep locally important material on the air," said KLCB’s Duane Williams.
Five days a week,KXLO-AM in Lewistown, Mont., serves seniors in the area by airing a "Council on Aging Daily Report." The five-minute segment has been part of KXLO’s programming for 35 years. During this time, the council has grown from a handful of individuals into a well-known agency advocating on behalf of Montana’s aging population. The "Daily Report," which is also streamed online, arms seniors with needed information and resources ranging from prescription drug issues to the Meals on Wheels menu to available shuttle services to and from town. The program also raises awareness of volunteer opportunities with the council. In a part of the country where some elderly are more than 100 miles from medical care and other necessities, the program’s reach is critical. "KXLO has truly been a lifeline, a companion, a friend and a comforter for all aging citizens in Central Montana for 35 years, and for some a lifetime," said J. Thomas Wojtowick, executive director of the Fergus County Council on Aging. Fred Lark, station owner, was an original board member of the council and participates in the Governor’s Conference on Aging every year.
Topic: Youth-Focused Initiatives
Every year, KULR-TV in Billings, Mont., works with the Marine Corps to make sure needy children in the area have a gift to open on Christmas morning. During the 14-year partnership, the local Toys for Tots campaign has significantly grown. From Thanksgiving to the week before Christmas, the station donates more than $18,000 in airtime just in promotions about toy drop-off locations. News stories highlight campaign progress and types of toys still needed, and public service announcements feature news talent and Marine coordinators. For one day, the news crew travels to drop-off locations throughout the area, reporting back to viewers through dozens of live cut-ins. Donated toys are displayed on the news set, and anchors encourage people to get involved at the end of each newscast. This encouragement goes a long way. In 2007, the campaign collected 17,000 toys and nearly $10,000. "For a kid, a toy can represent hope and the magic of Christmas," said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Brian Dixon. "Without the support of KULR, Toys for Tots in Billings probably wouldn’t come anywhere close to achieving the success we have."
For more examples of how Montana’s local radio and TV broadcasters are serving every local community, please contact the Montana Broadcasters Association .