Where do you turn to get your news? Broadcast or cable television, newspaper, the local morning radio show? For many people in the Pacific Northwest, public radio is the source they trust for not only news, but for arts, culture, educational and regional programming. As a publicly supported, non-commercial entity, public radio benefits the community, is not solely reliant on advertising dollars and has greater freedom to produce content that matters to its listeners. Public radio covers nearly every corner of the Pacific Northwest, and the Murdock Trust actively supports nonprofit public broadcasters in all five states of our region because we believe it enriches the lives of all individuals and families in our communities.
Public radio brings to life the stories of our region. The newspaper’s front page or the evening television news are dominated by the most timely and sensational stories, and regional stories don’t often get a chance at the spotlight. But stories from overlooked or underrepresented communities get a platform on public radio. KNKX has been western Washington’s jazz, blues and news station since 1966 and is proud to showcase storytellers who reflect the voices of the region. When communities are given a voice and reflected in the media, they are made stronger.
Programming geared toward the social benefit of our communities sets public radio apart from traditional media. Montana Public Radio is a public service of the University of Montana. It began as a student training facility in 1965 and today is a media network serving western and central Montana with news, eclectic music and entertainment. With programming from NPR, as well as original local program content, MTPR works to enrich mind and spirit, inspire a lifetime of learning and connect communities, which benefits every individual in our society.
For some Americans, public radio is their main source of news, and sometimes their only source if they are in extremely rural areas. Their radio station becomes a sort of lifeline between them and the rest of their community, the country and even the world. Public radio stations like KTOO, the call sign of Capital Community Broadcasting, bring news, music, the arts and other public service offerings to thousands of rural Americans. KTOO started in Juneau in 1974 and now reaches across many areas of Alaska, creating a vital connection point for rural Alaskans.
At its roots, public radio was founded with a goal of providing educational programming. This is especially obvious in programming focused on arts and science, as well as dedicated educational programming for children. Northwest Public Broadcasting covers all of Washington, plus parts of Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, with its stations licensed through Washington State University. Its mix of news, classical, jazz and NPR programming reaches all of its audiences with a broad variety of educational media.
While traditional media may only have time to provide soundbites on current issues, public radio gives the opportunity to dig into those issues and present more than one perspective. Oregon Public Broadcasting is known for diving deeper into current issues to give listeners a better understanding and perhaps even a different perspective. Started in 1922 as part of a physics experiment at Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State University, OPB is now the most-used public media organization in the Pacific Northwest. With a major focus of reporting on health, education, public affairs and the environment, OPB works hard to tackle subjects relevant to our current public discourse with voices from all sides, a vital component of creating civil public discourse.
Public radio improves our social awareness, provides educational opportunities to our children, presents a platform where people who disagree can come together and have civil discussions and enriches our region’s culture. These five nonprofits are just a handful of the amazing public radio stations that cover our region and bring another piece of the puzzle needed for our communities to thrive. Browse through our Grants Awarded on our website to find more public broadcasting nonprofits that the Murdock Trust supports.