Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are making a meaningful impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Amanda Mountain and I’m the CEO and president of Rocky Mountain Public Media, the nonprofit that encompasses Rocky Mountain PBS, KUVO Jazz, and The Drop, which is one of the first public media hip-hop R&B stations in the country.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I’m a first-generation college grad, and I grew up as a military brat, so moved around quite a bit. I went to the University of Colorado and studied media. When I got out of school, my first job was as a marketing assistant for a newspaper group. I just loved how dynamic and challenging the media business was and I was intoxicated by the opportunity to make a positive difference through media.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I stand for the democratization of the media. I think that media and the roots of media are really built on the roots of privilege and by nature of that privilege, there has typically been a division between the community and the media that is serving the community. Oftentimes I think that division, even when unintentional, has seeded mistrust and created opportunities for misinformation, or underrepresentation of so much of our American story. So I am really excited to have my life’s work be to find new ways for the media to be more collaborative with the community it serves in order to build a more accurate historical record over time.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We are the largest membership organization in the state. So by nature of what we do and how we do it, we are a living, breathing reminder that people can come together regardless of their socioeconomic status, regardless of geography or political affiliation, and devote time and energy to being a part of public media. I think that we are demonstrating in real-time that it is possible and that media doesn’t have to be a force for derision and division. It can bring people together. So the impact we want to make moving forward it’s just more of that at a bigger scale, at a higher level of impact.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
I’m inspired by my colleagues. Most of the people who work at Rocky Mountain Public Media could be working somewhere else and have spent a lot of their careers working for other media organizations or other nonprofits. But we’ve all found our way to this organization at this point in time, ready, able, and eager to apply our collective and cumulative expertise and passion. We’re a part of something really special that I’ve never felt in my career before. I’m just so inspired, not by my vision, but by their vision and how our collective vision is really being shaped and motivated by the community and the voice of the community. It’s exciting.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our vision for Rocky Mountain Public Media is nothing short of a Colorado where everyone feels seen and heard. So often media has shaped self-perception and public-perception in ways that are not accurate with someone’s lived experience. So reconciling that and having media truly reflect people’s lived experiences has tremendous potential, I think. When people are seen and heard it can change lives. It can empower people, it can motivate people, it can inspire people, it can remind people of the power they have to share their voice and the innate value in that.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Our institutions that have been held up and revered for generations are now very clearly showing their wear. In a lot of instances, these institutions need to be entirely reinvented to be more equitable and more just. And the media is certainly one of them. I think some of the challenges that we’re experiencing are due to being a part of an industry that needs to reinvent and rebuild itself from the foundation out and always feeling like never quite being able to do it as fast as you want because true systemic change doesn’t happen quickly.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
I want people to really understand that public media is owned and operated by the community. We are the largest membership organization in the state. We have members in every single county of Colorado. We have a pretty balanced audience when it comes to political representation between registered Independents, Democrats, and Republicans. Public media is the closest thing we have to a table that people can come around to really understand each other by sharing our own individual lived experiences.
I also want people to know that public media is not just about covering the news, it’s much more than that. It’s active participation, and it is different. We are accountable to the community in a completely different way than pretty much any other media organization and I think that’s the promise and the power of what it means to be Rocky Mountain Public Media.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
I really love this Mr. Rogers quote: “All of us at some time or other need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Join us and become a part of public media. Let’s shape this together. Let’s create a better media for the community. Let’s change everything together so that we have a better normal moving forward and not just a “new” normal.
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