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Montie Mont­gomery ’19 is a pro­ducer for Our American Stories. | Instagram

Montie Mont­gomery ’19 grad­uated from Hillsdale with a degree in pol­itics. He is a pro­ducer for Our American Stories.

What do you do at Our American Stories?

It’s a nationally-syn­di­cated, long-form sto­ry­telling radio show on around 330+ sta­tions. I essen­tially make radio doc­u­men­taries and they’re highly pro­duced. My job as a pro­ducer is to make them sound nice. I put music under, and add effects, all that stuff. I’m inter­viewing people, as well, and trav­eling. So I’ve been doing that for two years now. Life after grad­u­ation in general has been a lot of learning on the fly, how to adult and how to do things they don’t teach you in college.

What was your Hillsdale expe­rience like?

My expe­rience at Hillsdale was gen­erally pretty good. I was involved in Young Amer­icans for Liberty, in Phi Mu Alpha as their out­reach guy that basi­cally got to come to rush events and stuff like that. I was obvi­ously involved in Radio Free Hillsdale. I was the pro­duction director and I had my own show there called “The Spin Room.”

What drew you to radio and broadcast jour­nalism in general?

When I was in high school, I essen­tially only lis­tened to one band and people would make fun of me because of it. The band was Oasis. I decided that in order to never have people make fun of me again for having very basic music taste, I would listen to a ton of records, crit­i­cally-acclaimed records, and then have some sense of knowledge about music. So I started lis­tening to a ton of music and really got into indie rock and a lot of up-and-coming bands. I figured it’d be fun for me in college to do a music review show and get involved in college radio. Radio Free Hillsdale had a lot of political talk on at the time. I figured it’d be fun to do some­thing a little bit more artsy, a little bit more music-based, and a little bit more hipster. 

What kind of work are you doing at Our American Stories?

Ulti­mately, it’s a ground-up oper­ation on my end from inter­views to the actual final product. Step by step, I reach out, I do research, and I interview people about topics per­taining to history, sports, faith, business, per­sonal stories of people. I’ll find people who have inter­esting stories about any of those topics and get them to come on the show. The bulk of my job is cutting up the audio into radio hour blocks. OAS is a two hour, some­times three hour long show, depending on which market you’re in. And so, I have to take two hours of audio from inter­views and cut it down to some­where between 10 and 40 minutes. I think my edu­cation at Hillsdale really helped me because it’s a liberal-arts edu­cation and your knowledge really spans a decent amount of range and you can make deci­sions better because of that. Then the fun part of my job is I get the score, I get to put in FX, and I get to work with making it sound like a movie on air. That takes a lot of artistic skill and a mind for music.

What do you like about the artistic side of broadcast journalism?

I’ve always been into music and I just have a desire to do any­thing that’s involved with music. When you have a piece in front of you, it is your job as the pro­ducer in my mind to bring out the emo­tions of the piece. Every voice is dif­ferent and every piece or pro­duction deserves some­thing dif­ferent. A lot goes into it, but you’re essen­tially painting the piece, you’re pro­viding color to it, and that’s why I like it.

What are some of the most inter­esting stories you’ve done with Our American Stories?

The most inter­esting one I’ve done was about the father of a medal of honor recipient who fought and died in Iraq trying to save one of his buddies on a mountain. It was the best interview I’ve ever had in my entire life and there wasn’t a dry eye in the studio. But it can be any­thing from that to onion rings. I inter­viewed another Hillsdale grad who goes around the country and reviews onion rings on the side. I run the gauntlet, really.

What do you think sto­ry­telling tells us about humanity?

Sto­ry­telling has been an art that is as old as time, even before people started recording things, and I think it’s such an important part of human history. It’s so dif­ferent with radio because a lot of talk radio is so angry. It’s people speaking to the choir and we’re not doing that. We’re not looking for per­fection. We’re looking for a story. Somebody who oth­erwise wouldn’t be able to get national media attention, such as someone talking about their grand­mother, can be on our show just as much as a famous his­torian. It allows his­tories — local his­tories — to be pre­served that are inter­esting to a broader audience. I think it’s important and it’s doing a service, not only to guests to have recorded his­tories down, but also to our lis­teners to under­stand the fabric of America and the people who make us up.