Claire and Monte Montgomery
Photo: Deborah Carlon
Photo: Deborah Carlon
The couple—who married in 1981 after a four-month courtship—have taken NPR with them in their travels across the country as screenwriters, authors and performers. NPR is so important to the couple—who now live in Los Angeles—that they named NPR and their local Member station as the primary beneficiaries of their wills. We'll let Monte tell their NPR story. Their hope is to inspire others to make a similar decision to remember public radio in their estate plans.
Q. Tell us about yourself. A. Claire turned 64 in January 2015; I turned 58 in February 2015. We like the age difference because we're statistically likely to die at about the same time, and neither of us much likes the idea of living without the other. We got married on May 1, 1981 in downtown L.A., having met four months earlier and being engaged for only eight days. We've made a living jointly since then mostly as screenwriters, authors and performers.
Q. Describe your relationship with NPR. A. My parents were longtime members of WKAR in East Lansing, where I grew up, but I didn't pay much attention at the time. Too busy with girls and music. After Claire and I met, she got hooked on public radio first, by listening to KCRW to preserve her sanity while organizing the legal files at a movie studio in the early 80s in Annapolis.
Over the years, we slowly migrated to KPCC (other than a weekly pilgrimage for Harry Shearer's Le Show, of course). We both firmly believe that public broadcasting is an essential bulwark (sometimes it seems like the only one) between corporate America and an independent electorate. If we ran the government, there'd be full, perpetual funding of all public radio and television—no more pledge breaks! But that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Q. What moved you to the decision of making a bequest to NPR? A. Because we've always made a living in the arts, our income has been rather spotty—we're never sure where our next gig is coming from. Nonetheless we've somehow managed to pile up some stocks and real estate equity. If we were traditional steady earners, we'd consider more substantial annual gifts (beyond our annual membership, which is de rigueur); but since we're not, we figured the next best thing would be to make public radio the primary beneficiary of our wills.
Q. What do you want your legacy to be? A. Not sure how to answer this one. It sounds a bit high-falutin' (not to mention unnecessarily combative) to say "helping protect the independence of media from the corrupting influence of special interests," but that really is what we believe. Perhaps more down-to-earth would be, "We want to keep radio free, fair and independent." Or even simpler, "We hate advertising."