UM Selects Four Finalists for Broadcast Media Center Director

June 14, 2016

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will conduct on-campus interviews this month with four finalists for the director of the Broadcast Media Center, which houses KUFM-TV and KUFM Radio.

The finalists are Aaron Clingingsmith of Billings; Ray Ekness of Missoula; John Hess of Boise, Idaho; and Linda Talbott of Missoula. They are vying to replace William Marcus, who retired as director last year after a 40-year career in Montana public broadcasting.

Members of the public are invited to attend open forums with each candidate and provide feedback. The forums will be at 4 p.m. in the third-floor University Center Theater. The dates for each forum are:

  • Monday, June 20 – Clingingsmith
  • Tuesday, June 21 – Ekness
  • Monday, June 27 – Hess
  • Tuesday, June 28 – Talbott

The candidate resumes are online at People can provide feedback about each candidate at   

Clingingsmith is director of University Relations and Communications at Montana State University Billings. He has served in that role since 2010, overseeing MSU Billings’ website, media and government relations, communications, marketing and creative services, and Yellowstone Public Radio. He holds an MBA from Arizona State University and undergraduate degrees in journalism and business administration from UM.

Ekness is a professor and former department chair of the Department of Radio-Television in the UM School of Journalism. He worked at the Broadcast Media Center from 1989 to 2000 as a TV producer and director. He was an adjunct faculty member at UM in the 1990s before joining the faculty full time in 2000. He holds master’s and undergraduate degrees in journalism from UM.

Hess is a freelance media consultant, providing executive searches, strategic planning, coaching and board development for public media organizations. He was executive director and general manager of Boise State Public Radio from 2005 to 2015, overseeing a network of 20 stations and translators across southwest and central Idaho and northern Nevada. He holds an undergraduate degree in broadcasting and film from the University of Iowa.

Talbott is associate director for development, communications and planning at the Broadcast Media Center. She also has served as the center’s interim director for the past year. Talbott has worked for the center since 1997, overseeing strategic planning, external communications and all development for Montana Public Radio, as well as joint fundraising campaigns with MontanaPBS. She holds an undergraduate degree in fine arts from the School of Art Institute in Chicago.


Contact: Cary Shimek, search committee chair, University Relations communication director, 406-243-5614,