If you’ve turned on the TV in Montana recently, you’ve probably been bombarded with advertisements propping up — or tearing down — candidates for political office. Each contender claims they’re the best choice to uphold “Montana values.” 


But what does that mean? Who is that promise for? And how do those unspoken values shape Montana’s politics?

This story also appeared in Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio

In the new podcast Shared State, Montana Free Press, Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio will bring listeners along for a deeper look at the most important issues on the ballot. The nine-episode series debuts Sept. 8, 2020 and will culminate just before Election Day. 

“In this ambitious collaborative podcast we’re asking: What values are shaping Montana’s election? And what — if anything — do they really mean?” says Montana Free Press editor-in-chief John Adams.

From exploring the meaning of “real Montanan” to voter access, public lands and rugged individualism, the Shared State series bridges history, politics and the daily reality of Montanans in the lead-up to a landmark election.

“By digging into the idea of Montana values, we’re able to see more clearly the pressing issues facing voters this November, and where we might be headed from here,” says Shared State editor Nick Mott of Montana Public Radio.

Shared State is hosted by Sarah Aronson, of Montana Public Radio’s The Write Question, and is collaboratively reported and produced by the state’s leading independent nonprofit newsrooms.

“This format lets us feature the collective talent of our three newsrooms and tell political stories in a way that engages the electorate,” says MTFP reporter and Shared State producer Mara Silvers. “We couldn’t be more excited to bring this work to our audiences.”

Listeners can find Shared State at the websites of Montana Public Radio, Yellowstone Public Radio and Montana Free Press, and subscribe wherever podcasts are found.

John Adams began his professional career in 2001 in Idaho Falls, ID writing and editing for a variety of trade magazines. He covered topics ranging from potato and sugar beet farming to skate park and playground construction and maintenance. Adams started his newspaper career as the city government reporter for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he covered the City Hall, police, fire and local courthouse beats. In 2005 he joined the staff of the Missoula Independent in Missoula, MT where he worked as a staff reporter covering a wide range of issues including the environment,...