In recent weeks with news reports about turmoil at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and with federal funding for public broadcasting uncertain in Congress, many of our viewers and members have questioned who has influence over MontanaPBS. The answer is simple: YOU.
Public television – like all public institutions, is meant to be a service to our community. And it is the community that informs the programming choices we make and the outreach programs in which we participate. MontanaPBS is locally owned - the two stations that make up MontanaPBS, KUSM in Bozeman and KUFM in Missoula, are licensed to Montana State University and the University of Montana, respectively. Our programming decisions are local - in addition to the shows we produce ourselves, MontanaPBS purchases programs from PBS, but also from a number of other sources available to us. None of these sources dictate which programs we run or when we should run them. All these decisions are made by our program director in Bozeman, whose choices are informed by our viewers and our mission.
MontanaPBS’ mission leads us to choose programs that elevate our understanding of the world, encourage respect for one another, and influence our lives in a positive way. We choose programs that connect our citizens; discover common ground; and celebrate the independent spirit and beauty of Montana. We focus on the needs of our Montana community. You tell us those needs in the phone calls you make, the letters you write and the programs you financially support.
For MontanaPBS, the trust of our viewers is the rating that matters most. In national polls for the last two years, public broadcasting was listed as the most trusted organization in the U.S. What were the other choices?: Courts of law, commercial broadcast networks, federal government, newspaper publishing companies, cable television networks and, finally, congress. The public also rated PBS second only to military defense as an excellent value for their tax dollar.
Everyday viewers tell us how much they value MontanaPBS. They express thanks for the wide range of local programming that we provide – programs you won’t see anywhere else. Viewers tell us they rely on MontanaPBS to broadcast programs or art forms that would never be seen on commercial television – programs about jazz, opera and ballet; stories about polio vaccines and string theory; in-depth biographies of people as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald and Osama Bin Laden.
MontanaPBS values the hours our viewers spend with us, and we strive to provide a worthwhile experience. We are more than television. We are an electronic town square that exists to enhance the lives of our citizens, to bring them together, to encourage discussion and debate and to contribute to life-long learning.
Make no mistake; MontanaPBS exists to serve you – the public. And it is the Montana public that influences what we do. As we expand our signal into more towns, our viewership continues to grow, and we come ever closer to fulfilling the goal of reaching and responding to all Montanans.
The trust of our MontanaPBS viewers, members and neighbors is our most cherished contribution. You can be certain we will vigilantly uphold this trust in the programs we choose, the information we communicate and in the relationships that we build.
Jack Hyyppa William Marcus
Station Manager Station Manager
MontanaPBS – KUSM-TV, Bozeman MontanaPBS-KUFM-TV, Missoula