Montana State University

MontanaPBS director and general manager elected to national PBS Board of Directors

November 22, 2016 -- From MSU News Service

Eric Hyyppa, the director and general manager of MontanaPBS, has been elected to the 27-person PBS Board of Directors. The board includes both professional directors, who are station leaders, and general directors, who serve as lay members. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN — Eric Hyyppa, the director and general manager of KUSM Television, MontanaPBS, has been elected by his peers to the national PBS Board of Directors.

“I’m honored to be selected to serve on the PBS Board of Directors,” Hyyppa said. “It’s a tremendously impressive group of system and lay leaders from across the country. The work they do is so important to us in Montana.”

The 27-person PBS board includes both professional directors, who are station leaders, and general directors, who serve as lay members of the board, as well as the PBS president. The PBS Board of Directors is responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS. General and professional directors of the PBS Board are elected to three-year terms and serve without pay. PBS member stations elect the professional directors. The general directors are elected by the entire board, as are the PBS president and the board officers.

“This is an important chapter in PBS’ history – a moment in which our system has great momentum as well as a strong foundation on which to build,” said Paula Kerger, PBS president and chief executive officer. “Thanks to the outstanding commitment of the talented executives on the PBS Board, our enterprise has the leadership it needs to navigate these exciting and complicated times. I am tremendously grateful to the members just joining our Board and those who already work so hard on behalf of our mission and the American public.”

Hyyppa noted that MontanaPBS is working to grow and expand its service to the state in a number of ways, and serving alongside “some of the best thinkers in our system and some extraordinary leaders from across the country” will help MontanaPBS grow and strengthen its mission.

“Our goals in Montana of strengthening our service to educators, improving public safety communications, improving civic dialogue and providing lifelong learning about Montana’s rich history and culture are all strengthened by a well-directed, focused national system,” Hyyppa said.

Specifically, Hyyppa said, a few examples of MontanaPBS initiatives that will be supported by PBS include:

  • MontanaPBS LearningMedia: Through a partnership with PBS, MontanaPBS will be expanding its online media resource for teachers, bringing a Montana teacher onboard at MontanaPBS to spend the next three years working in Montana schools, teaching teachers how to use media resources in their classroom to better engage students and improve learning outcomes.
  • Expanded public affairs programming: MontanaPBS is expanding its public affairs programming, producing in-depth documentaries on important topics in Montana, including energy, education, economic development and employment. The work will benefit from partnership with national news and public affairs producers from the NewsHour and Frontline, Hyyppa said.
  • Public safety: MontanaPBS is working to build partnerships with state emergency services agencies to leverage its statewide network to provide Montanans important, timely public safety information during emergencies like floods, forest fires and more.
  • Lifelong learning: MontanaPBS is working to build on its history of telling Montana’s stories and sharing Montana’s rich history. It is currently producing historical documentaries on CM Russell, the Bozeman Trail and others. MontanaPBS works with PBS to share important parts of the state’s history with the country.

“It’s also important to not overlook the impact of the programming we receive from PBS on the lives of our Montana viewers,” Hyyppa said. “Our educational children’s programming is consistently recognized as the best on television, and for many Montana families, it’s the only pre-school available. With this appointment, MontanaPBS will have a seat at the table as we guide the next 10 years of PBS programming and services.”

As director of KUSM Television, Hyyppa oversees a university licensed state network covering all of Montana. He has more than 20 years of experience in public broadcasting and more than a decade of experience in television production, including work for every major network and many independent companies.

Before becoming general manager in 2006, Hyyppa served MontanaPBS as information systems manager. He has a background in information technology and received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from MSU. He is a former member of the Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

During his tenure at MontanaPBS, the organization has grown from a single station to a statewide network of six stations, more than 20 translators and a satellite delivery service that reaches the smallest communities in the state. The organization has expanded local production, including a number of nationally distributed programs, grown local support, and been a leader in the use of technology for highly efficient station operations. As general manager, Hyyppa also has overseen the launch of a major and planned giving program, expansion of local news and public affairs programming, and an expanded emphasis on education, specifically leveraging the PBS LearningMedia platform in Montana.

In addition to a number of boards in Montana, Hyyppa currently serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of America’s Public Television Stations, is past chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), is past chairman of public television’s Affinity Group Coalition, and is past co-chair of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives.

“MontanaPBS is recognized nationally for our service to Montana,” Hyyppa said. “Our university partnership is a highly efficient, effective way to make world-class educational television available to people all across the fourth-largest state.”

Contact: Eric Hyyppa, (406) 994-6252 or