After a national search, the University of Montana has selected Ray Ekness to become the next director of the Broadcast Media Center, which houses the public broadcasting stations of KUFM Radio and KUFM-TV.
Ekness is a UM School of Journalism professor and former department chair of the Department of Radio-Television. He will start his new director duties Aug. 22.
“Ray has the talent, personality and work ethic to help guide the Broadcast Media Center through an evolving public media landscape,” said Mario Schulzke, UM chief marketing officer who oversees the center. “He also expressed a Montana-centric vision for programming that we found exciting, and we expect his unique background to increase ties between the Broadcast Media Center and our journalism school.”
Ekness will replace William Marcus, who retired as director last year after a 40-year career in Montana public broadcasting, and Linda Talbott, the center’s associate director for development, communication and development who served as interim director for more than a year.
Ekness worked a few radio jobs in his native North Dakota and worked on-air at KUFM as a UM student in 1982. He then launched a career as a commercial producer and newscast director at television stations in Montana and Idaho.
Starting in 1989, he was a producer and director at the Broadcast Media Center for 11 years – working as an adjunct at the journalism school during that time – and he joined the J-school full time in 2000. He rose up through the ranks, chairing the radio-TV department for six years, and he currently serves as school’s director of student success.
Ekness has helped produce many MontanaPBS programs, including the popular “Backroads of Montana.” Other programs he produced include “Remembering the Columbia Gardens,” “To Helena and Back: the First Special Service Force,” “Building Bridges: Back to Ireland” and “War of the Worlds.”
“I’m humbled to have the chance to lead the Broadcast Media Center,” Ekness said. “I look forward to working hard with an outstanding staff to produce programs that our viewers and listeners will love and support.”
KUFM Radio and KUFM-TV are Corporation for Public Broadcasting-qualified stations offered as a public service by UM. Montana Public Radio is an NPR affiliate, with news teams in Missoula, the Flathead Valley and Helena. The cooperative public television operation – KUFM-TV in Missoula and KUSM-TV in Bozeman – comprise MontanaPBS, the statewide television network that serves nearly every Montana household in 400 communities.