Sally Mauk

News Director Emeritus

Retired in 2014 but still a presence at MTPR, Sally Mauk is a University of Kansas graduate and former wilderness ranger who has reported on everything from the legislature to forest fires. She also taught broadcast writing and reporting in the University of Montana journalism school.

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Sally Mauk

The city of Missoula has filed to obtain its privately owned water system through eminent domain. The complaint was filed in District Court. The city has been trying to negotiate a purchase of the Mountain Water company from its owner, the Carlyle Group, but has not been able to reach agreement. Missoula is the only major Montana city not to own its water system, and Mayor John Engen says it's in the public's best interest to control its water. He says the current owner is only interested in profit and has not been a good steward of the water system.

Last year, 37,000 Montanans were the victims of crime, according to the state Board of Crime Control. 30 years ago, there were very few services for crime victims, but today every state has those services - everything from counseling to advocacy - and every state has a crime victims' compensation fund.
    Next week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which has been held every year since 1981 to increase public awareness of victims' rights and services.

Montana women earn 67 cents on the dollar of what men make, placing us 39th in the country when it comes to the gender pay gap. That fact prompted Governor Steve Bullock to form an Equal Pay for Equal Work task force, and to co-sponsor a summit on equal pay that kicks off tonight, and runs through tomorrow, at Montana State University in Bozeman.
    State Labor commissioner Pam Bucy is co-chair of the equal pay task force and a participant in tomorrow's summit.

Montanans are getting accustomed to smoky summers, as our fire seasons have gotten longer and more intense in recent years. Get ready for things to get worse. A recent report on the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems says the number of acres burned by wildfire will at least double this century. The report is part of a National Climate Assessment presented to Congress and the President. Forest service research scientist David Peterson is one of the three editors of that report.

Jerry O'Malley

Since 2003, the University of Montana's dining services have bought six and a half million dollars worth of food - everything from lentils to beef - from Montana farmers and ranchers, under the Farm to College program. The program was created out of a partnership between students in the Environmental Studies program and UM's Dining Services, and has grown every year.
    News Director Sally Mauk visited one of the Dining Services kitchens - and a new on-campus garden - to learn more about the program, and UM's increasing commitment to buying,  and growing, local.


Bryan Gruley is an award-winning mystery writer and a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter - and he's delivering the annual Jeff Cole memorial lecture at the University of Montana this evening. Gruley is now a feature reporter for Bloomberg News, after working many years for the Wall Street Journal. He was part of a team of Journal reporters who won the Pulitzer for their coverage of the 9/11 attacks.

In this feature interview, Gruley talks with News Director Sally Mauk about the enormous changes in the journalism profession - and about the challenges of covering 9/11.

It's Women's History Month, and as we reported earlier, part of the observance at the University of Montana, was a talk this week on the historical role of women in the U.S. Indian Service. University of New Mexico historian Cathleen Cahill  is the author of the book "Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869-1933."

As we reported yesterday, the University of Montana has reached an agreement with the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, assuring that UM will provide better access for disabled students to campus technology.

Amy Capolupo is Director of UM Disability Services for Students. In this feature interview, she talks with News Director Sally Mauk about the agreement, which grew out of complaints from several disabled students about the lack of access.


Land managers from Montana, Alberta and British Columbia are gathering in Missoula this week to talk about managing the Crown of the Continent ecosystem for climate change. Participants include government agencies, non-profit organizations, academics and tribal representatives.
    The executive director of the Seattle-based nonprofit organization known as "EcoAdapt", Lara Hansen, is one of the forum's featured speakers.

One in five kids goes hungry in America - a statistic the national "No Kid Hungry" campaign hopes to change. Bill Shore is the founder of the national nonprofit working to end childhood hunger in America, and Oscar-winning actor, and part-time Montana resident, Jeff Bridges is the campaign's national spokesman.

Mike Covey went to work for the Plum Creek timber company right after getting his forestry degree from the University of Montana in 1980, and stayed with Plum Creek for 23 years. Covey is now chairman and CEO of the Spokane-based Potlatch Corporation, another big timber holder in the Pacific Northwest.

Covey was in Missoula this week to lecture at his alma mater and he also took time to sit down in our studios with News Director Sally Mauk, to talk about the sweeping changes in the timber industry in the last few decades.


A critic of American military intervention is in Missoula to deliver a talk in the President's lecture series at the University of Montana. Andrew Bacevich  is a retired Army colonel, author and historian who teaches international relations and history at Boston University.

In this feature interview, Bacevich talks with News Director Sally Mauk about what he calls the "new American militarism".

The modern evangelical movement is diverse - and contradictory. That's just one of the points of a new book that takes a historical look at the evolution of American evangelicals. The book is titled "Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism" and was written by University of North Carolina historian Molly Worthen.

A recent national Gallup poll lists Montana as the least obese state in the country. Only 19.6 percent of Montana's population is obese - the only state to come in under 20 percent. Nationally, more than one third of adults are obese. Mississippi is the fattest state, with 36.4 percent of their population rated as obese.

Mount Sentinel reopened

Mar 10, 2014

Conditions have improved enough that University of Montana officials have reopened Mount Sentinel to the public. Most of the east side of Campus Drive has also been reopened to parking.

Sally Mauk

Falling rocks and snow slides have prompted University of Montana officials to close Mount Sentinel until further notice. Much of the east side of Campus Drive has also been closed to vehicle parking because of the danger of rockslides. The drive itself remains open to moving traffic. Here's a link for campus safety updates:

Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes

$18.3 million dollars - that's the price an arbitration panel has set for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes to buy Kerr Dam near Polson from PPL Montana. It's a price close to what the tribes think is fair, and well below what PPL was asking.
    The panel's decision paves the way for the Salish and Kootenai to become the first tribe in the country to own a major hydroelectric facility. Brian Lipscomb is CEO of Energy Keepers - the tribal corporation involved in the dam negotiation and eventual operation. 

Photo of the day

Mar 6, 2014
Sally Mauk

Weather got you feeling like climbing the walls? UM resource conservation major Shannon Pepper has the UM rec center climbing wall repaired and ready...

Jeremiah Petersen

As a member of Missoula County's search and rescue team for six years, and its current chief, Joshua Herbold has been involved in dozens of rescues and recoveries. But even for this veteran, last Friday was unique for Herbold's team: a first-ever residential avalanche rescue, followed immediately by two skiers lost near Missoula's Snobowl.


Missoula lost an important voice this week, when long time Missoulian reporter Betsy Cohen died of breast cancer. The 49-year-old Cohen's byline appeared on thousands of stories in her 18-year journalism career, first as a reporter for the Montana Standard, and since 1998, for the Missoulian.

Cohen's work garnered numerous awards and the respect and admiration of her many peers, newsmakers and readers.
    News Director Sally Mauk spoke this week with some of Cohen's friends and colleagues and has this remembrance.

In December we spoke with Olympian Heather McPhie of Bozeman about her hopes for the Sochi Olympics. McPhie is the reigning national freestyle mogul ski champion, and Sochi was her second Olympics.

She placed 18th in Vancouver in 2010. In Sochi, McPhie placed 13th. Although the 29-year-old didn't make it onto the medals podium,  she tells News Director Sally Mauk she had an experience she'll always cherish.

Missoula law enforcement are going door to door  in the lower Rattlesnake neighborhood of Missoula between Richard and Holly streets, advising residents of the unstable snow conditions and danger of avalanche. Although no mandatory evacuations are being ordered, residents are being advised of the risk in deciding whether to  stay or leave.

Local authorities have also advised folks to stay off Mount Sentinel, Mount Jumbo, and Waterworks Hill because of the increased avalanche danger.

William Marcus

A child and an elderly couple have been rescued after being buried in an avalanche in the lower Rattlesnake area of Missoula. The afternoon slide destroyed at least one house on Harrison street. 

Missoula police Sgt. Travis Welsh says the three people were found alive, dug out separately after the slide and taken by ambulance to St. Patrick hospital. Welch says they believe everyone is now accounted for but search teams with dogs continue to check the area.

Authorities continue to evaluate the danger of further snow slides and whether any evacuations will  be necessary.

Tonight's talk in the President's lecture series at the University of Montana is one of the many events cancelled because of today's blizzard - but the featured speaker did brave the elements today to sit down in our studios with News Director Sally Mauk. Avishai Margalit is an emeritus philosophy professor at Hebrew  University in Jerusalem, an author, and one of the foremost living philosophers, who has written extensively about the struggle between Islam and the West.

Daniel Dauterive

An exhibit featuring over 100 prints from some of the most notable artists of the modern era opened this month at the Missoula Art Museum. Works by such luminaries as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Barbara Kruger are featured - and are part of the private collection of  Oregon real estate developer and philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer.

As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack is in charge of a lot more than the nation's food policy. His agency also oversees management of our national forests, and as a member of the Cabinet, he advises the president on everything from the farm bill - to the impacts of climate change.

In this feature interview, Vilsack talks with News Director Sally Mauk about those issues and more - starting with why he thinks the Affordable Care Act is a good deal for rural Americans.


He's been called a cross between Bill Gates and Batman. As the chief analytics officer for the 2012 Obama campaign, Dan Wagner and his staff of data scientists revolutionized how big data is used to target voters, and get them to the polls.

When John and Courtney McKee opened their new microdistillery "Headframe Spirits" in Butte in early 2012, they had no idea their success would lead to them being named Montana Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2013.

Besides producing bourbon and gin and other spirits, their company also manufactures distillation equipment for Montana's growing distillery industry.
    In this feature interview, Courtney McKee talks with News Director Sally Mauk about how they decided to start their own company, when John got laid off from his previous job.


Sally Mauk

In over three decades of fighting fire, studying fire and crafting fire management policy, Tom Zimmerman has seen a lot of changes in fire behavior and control. Zimmerman has worked with fire for the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S Forest Service - and most recently, at the  National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

Montanans are more likely to be poor, compared with the rest of the nation, and women are more likely to be poor than men. That's just one of the sobering facts contained in a new report on the status of women in Montana, summarized in the winter issue of the Montana Business Quarterly.