Sep 28 2011


The University of Montana-based Montana Public Radio recently received a grant of $145,000 from the Murdock Charitable Trust with a challenge to raise an additional $25,000 in community donations.

The grant will help MTPR fund its Signal Improvement Project, which aims to expand and improve its coverage area in northwestern Montana, upgrade the Missoula studios with new digital networking and production equipment and improve the local Missoula signal.

MTPR General Manager William Marcus said the trust’s support helps the station match federal grant funds to bring Libby its first public radio service, KUFL 90.5 FM, and provide Polson and the Flathead Lake area with improved service.

“We’ve waited a long time to put together the right resources to make this major expansion happen,” Marcus said. “We trust that folks in Libby and Polson will feel more connected through our local news and music programming and will appreciate the excellence of National Public Radio news programming, too.”

The new station serving Polson and the southern end of Flathead Lake, KPJH, 89.5 FM, was named to honor MTPR’s founder, Philip J. Hess, who began KUFM as a student training facility at UM in 1965.

The project will also give the MTPR signal a power boost in the Missoula Valley, increasing translators from 89.9 FM to 91.5 FM. In addition, the main production studio at MTPR’s Missoula facility will be digitally upgraded across the board, replacing equipment that has been in use since the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center at UM opened in 1985.  The Murdock Charitable Trust provided a large grant in 1985 that funded construction of the Broadcast Media Center at UM, home to MTPR and KUFM-TV/MontanaPBS.

“The Murdock Charitable Trust was there at the beginning of MTPR, and we’re grateful that they have chosen to continue their support of our public broadcasting services in Montana,” Marcus said.

MTPR will not receive the Murdock Charitable Trust funds until the challenge to raise at least $25,000 in community donations is met. In total the station must raise approximately $100,000 to meet both the trust challenge and the remaining match requirements for federal grants. A year ago, MTPR received $510,000 in grants for the project from the federal Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

For more information, contact William Marcus, general manager, UM Broadcast Media Center, 406.243.4154, or Linda Talbott, associate director, UM Broadcast Media Center, 406.243.4215.