This week, Montana Free Press is closing out 2019 by looking back at some highlights from the first year of the Montana Lowdown podcast. This 2019 review episode features host and MTFP editor-in-chief John S. Adams in a conversation with the show’s producer, Alex McKenzie.

The show debuted on January 7, 2019, just as the legislative session was getting underway in Helena. The first guest was Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance of Hamilton, who talked with Adams about a split among Republican lawmakers between so-called Solutions Caucus Republicans who were willing to negotiate bipartisan legislation with Democrats, and more staunchly conservative Republicans who took a more oppositional approach to Democratic legislation. The split proved to be a key part of the narrative of the 2019 session.

The weekly podcast series has featured in-depth interviews with state legislators, as well as candidates seeking statewide and federal offices in 2020. A handful of nonelectoral guests, like climate scientist Steven Running and political researcher James D’Angelo, have rounded out the series.

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Adams says he hopes the in-depth conversations provide value for citizens beyond the brief quotes that are typically used in print news stories. “The idea was to give listeners the opportunity to hear what I hear when I’m interviewing these individuals,” he says.

The MT Lowdown podcast will cease production during the holiday season, and will return with more candidate interviews in early 2020.

Alex McKenzie has worked with a diverse array of start-ups and nonprofit organizations. He is a former record producer and music journalist, has additional experience working in agriculture and food security, and previously operated his own dairy business. He lives in southwest Montana. Follow him on Twitter.