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MSU’s Hyyppa honored by Northwest Chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Monday Jun. 12th, 2017

Jack Hyyppa, who helped create MontanaPBS in more than three decades at Montana State University, was inducted into the Silver Circle recently by the board of governors of the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Hyyppa was among eight veteran media professionals from throughout the Pacific Northwest to be inducted at the regional Emmy ceremony held in Seattle on June 3. The Silver Circle honors media professionals who’ve served the industry for at least 25 years, either in a performing, creative, technical or administrative roles, or in an area related to television such as TV journalism education, advertising, promotion and public relations. They must also have made a significant contribution to the Northwest Chapter for at least part of their 25-year career. The Northwest Chapter of NATAS has honored and celebrated Silver Circle members since 1991.

A native of Whitehall, Hyyppa is an MSU graduate who worked for a short time at Northern Illinois University before returning to his alma mater in 1973 to join the faculty of what was then the MSU Film and Television Department.

He brought Montana’s first public broadcasting station on the air in 1984, motivated by a group of local mothers who lobbied to have the national educational children’s show, “Sesame Street,” available for their children. At the time, Montana was one of just a few states that did not have a local public broadcasting service. Montana’s station launched with assistance from KUED in Salt Lake City and a low-power transmitter donated to the young station by Joe Sample, the renowned pioneering Billings broadcaster. Hyyppa slowly grew the station, raising support from the community, the university, and the Montana Legislature. Eventually, its reach was extended beyond Gallatin Valley with support from cable systems across the state and a number of translators.

In 1997, Hyyppa helped forge KUFM-TV, a partnership between MSU and the University of Montana, expanding over-the-air public television into western Montana. In subsequent years, that partnership grew to include stations in Billings, Great Falls and Kalispell. Today, MontanaPBS serves more than 400 Montana communities and nearly every Montana home.

A longtime member of the MBA board of directors, Hyyppa retired in 2006 from more than three decades of teaching and 22 years of managing MontanaPBS. This is the second major award for Hyyppa in as many years. Last year he was inducted into the Montana Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.