C-SPAN visits Missoula to share city’s rich history, personalities

C-SPAN coordinating producer Debbie Lamb sets up a camera shot with Missoula Mayor John Engen at City Hall on Tuesday. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

C-SPAN, the national television network that provides gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. House and Senate, is visiting Missoula this week to capture the city’s rich history and literary culture to air local segments on its Book TV and American History TV stations in early July.

The reports will be part of “Missoula Weekend” on C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3.

Debbie Lamb, a coordinating producer for C-SPAN, and her team are interviewing local leaders and non-fiction authors for four days as part of the “C-SPAN Cities Tour: Exploring the American Story.”

“The concept is to get out of Washington, D.C., and capture the heritage of American cities and expand our programming so that folks can get a window into a city they might not otherwise have visited or have seen, and learn a little bit on that city’s impact on our history,” Lamb said.

C-SPAN primarily airs coverage of federal government hearings, but each year since 2011, the station is able to see how other towns and cities across the nation contribute to the country’s overall historical heritage.

“We’re a mission-driven network with a non-partisan view to show you what’s happening in Congress and the House (of Representatives) and all kinds of public affairs programming on a federal level. But this is our one niche in which we can go locally,” Lamb said.

The team plans to capture much of Missoula’s history, including the story of U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers, the Fort Missoula Alien Detention Center, the University of Montana and the city’s history of logging and lumber making.

Local published authors will also be interviewed, including authors Stan Cohen, Ken Egan, Marc Johnson, Beth Judy and Jeremy Smith. Topics range from the history of Montana literature to women in the state’s history.

Lamb also interviewed Mayor John Engen.

“One of the things we do is we talk to the mayors of the cities about what they think is an important part of the city’s history and why. What are the demographics of the city, what are some of the challenges the city faces, where is the city located, what would you do if you came here?” Lamb said. “So it gives our audience a look from the city’s official perspective of what is Missoula and where is it going today and where is it going in the future.”