Hometown author Aaron Parrett, too, packed ‘em in at the Venus Rising Espresso House. People flocked to hear him read from his latest book, “Literary Butte -- a History in Novels and Film."
His introduction alone references a slew of influential writers from the 1880s to current day, and the handful of films that star Butte as a main character.
“From a geographical perspective, it’s somewhat baffling that Butte exists at all. As Alexander Winchell observed in 1911, ‘Butte is an excellent example of a city built and prosperous in spite of the fact that all those external conditions generally thought of as ‘geographic’ are extremely unfavorable: Butte has no natural water supply; it has no natural fuel supply; it has no natural routes for transportation; it has not even a natural food supply.’”
Parrett provides a fascinating overview of strong Butte fiction and nonfiction, writers known and little-known.
“It makes sense, then,” he writes, “that an astonishing number of writers have chosen Butte, Montana, as the setting for their work. However noble or ignoble the narrative of Butte may be, it is in some sense an abridged version of the story of American itself: a story of people from nearly every corner of the world who found their way to labor there in pursuit of its promised wealth and an ensuing saga of the battle between forces of unbridled capitalism and social justice.”
Most friends-slash-fans, like local pastors Tim Christensen and Sandy VanZyl, hung around for Parrett’s music afterward. Parrett plays fiddle; friends joined him on banjo and bass to play Butte and its various narratives into the night.
Listeners sound off at MTPR forum
Times, they are a-changing for Montana Public Radio, celebrating its 50th year anniversary.
Roles were reversed at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives last week, when listeners sounded off about programming changes while the powers-that-be from MTPR (KUFM in Missoula) leaned in.
You can hear Montana Public Radio at 91.3 FM in Butte.
About 25 Butte folks shared their thoughts – the largest listening session to date around the state.
Several listeners complained that they miss the popular in-depth commentaries by Montana citizens. But Program Director Michael Marsolek said, “The national trend is to homogenize the services.”
Time is better spent on local news than commentaries due to Internet competition and ongoing funding quests, added News Director Eric Whitney.
One listener, an unnamed musician, said she’s upset with “the canned stuff on a national level” and that she wants more local DJs on air.
Marsolek responded that now music lovers can listen to music seven days a week, from 8 p.m. to midnight – shows like the national “Thistle & Shamrock” or “Night Train.”
News is now spread out throughout the day – in chunks, which disrupts the routine of many listeners who expect news overviews in the morning while getting ready for work or at 5 p.m., as the work day unwinds.
Butte listeners say they miss programs like “Selected Shorts,” a live New York storytelling event that aired weekly.
Securing fewer federal grants and lacking savings to replace equipment, the station has tightened its belt.
But now if a listener misses a news show or a favorite program like Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” he/she can listen to the podcast posted on www.mtpr.org, which links to more recent broadcasts.
“Listeners want on-demand, so we hired a part-time online real-time person for a robust presence online,” said Whitney.
“There’s a big generational difference today,” added Marsolek. “We actually have listeners who don’t own radios.”
Technical director Saxon Holbrook shared a fascinating tidbit: you can pick up MTPR on your television by selecting French as the language choice on your TV menu.
Good to know, since my bargain-basement stereo with built-in radio is on the fritz and my TV has pretty good sound. It must be a generational thing.