032219 KGLT

DJ “ttate” aka Tim Tate works during his indie chill wave show at KGLT on campus at Montana State University in this 2019 Chronicle file photo.

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As COVID-19 continues to change Montanans’ day-to-day lives, at least one thing has been constant: The radio is always on.

Bozeman is home to several community and public radio stations, all dedicated to keeping DJs, news reporters and volunteers safe while continuing to broadcast.

“We’re doing the best we can as it develops,” said KGLT general manager Craig Clark. “We value all the community support from Helena and Bozeman and Southwest Montana, and we’ll be here for the people as best we can.”

KGLT and Billings-based Yellowstone Public Radio have both postponed spring fund drive events, as have Montana Public Radio and KBGA College Radio in Missoula.

“We’ve postponed it out of sensitivity to the hardship that people are going through and particularly the business, local businesses and restaurants,” said Ron Craighead, KGLT’s marketing and program specialist. “We’re just waiting, letting the dust settle and re-evaluating how we’re going to move forward for our major fund drive push this year.”

Donations can still be made to KGLT on its website, KGLT.net.

The number of DJs on air at KGLT has also been significantly reduced, Clark said, from about 80 to 20.

Craighead said the station is also waiving underwriting fees for existing underwriters for the time being and airing messages about things like delivery services and curbside pickup from underwriters for free.

“We want all the businesses to recover before we embark on our fundraiser efforts,” he said. “We want to support the community as much as we can.”

KGVM Community Radio has seen less of a change in the way programming is done because a lot of its shows are recorded and then aired, said Bob Wall, KGVM’s chief operator and president of the Gallatin Valley Community Radio board.

“We’re also able to do live broadcasts from locations other than in the studios, so we’ve got a couple people that are taking advantage of that that weren’t previously,” Wall said.

KGVM is also running underwriting for free for the time being. The station didn’t have any events planned for this month, but will be celebrating its second anniversary on air in mid-May.

“We probably will do some kind of online appeal to people and we’ll probably try to do some kind of special event broadcast,” Wall said. “We’ll have to see where we’re at with being able to get people in the same place to put together the programming or if we’ll have to do it remotely.”

What’s going on air at KGVM has changed in some ways since the virus began spreading around the state. Some of the station’s programming was recorded lectures and other events, which aren’t happening under the governor’s orders to stay home. Instead, Wall said, DJs have been doing interviews with doctors and mental health experts.

“We’re shifting and trying to do as much as we can on getting information out about that on air,” Wall said.

Even though KGVM didn’t have a fundraising drive planned, Wall said it’s still feeling the pressure of reduced donations and underwriting money. Donations to the station can be made online at kgvm.org or dropped off at the donation box at the Gallatin Labor Temple, where the studio is.

Yellowstone Public Radio has seen one major change in its programming, according to program director and interim general manager Ken Siebert: There is now weekend local news for the first time in a long time.

“This really does require a seven-day-a-week approach,” Siebert said. “We haven’t had a weekend newscast in our schedule for quite a while.”

YPR still has reporters coming into the studio to host live shows like Morning Edition, but is doing everything possible to keep those hosts safe and healthy.

“We have such a remarkable staff,” Siebert said. “What’s paramount right now is that our listeners have that opportunity to hear, unfiltered, what’s happening across our nation and the world right now.”

Seven-day-a-week local news is one of the factors that led YPR to cancel its spring fundraising drive, though donations can still be made at ypradio.org. Fund drives require a lot of attention and time from everyone involved, Siebert said, and YPR elected to pour those resources into COVID-19 reporting.

“What we have to do right now is do what we’ve always said we were there for,” Siebert said. “We’re all in this together.”

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.