Jun 28, 2010 12:15 PM by KRTV News (Great Falls)

Norma Ashby inducted into MT Broadcasters Hall Of Fame

The Montana Broadcasters Association held its annual convention over the weekend in Whitefish, and KRTVs very own Norma Ashby became the first living woman to be inducted into the MBA Hall of Fame.

Ashby's career began in the early 1960s, and for the next 26 years, her smiling face could be seen on KRTV and throughout Montana, as she conducted thousands of interviews and reported on many of the historic events affecting the Treasure State.

Some of Ashby's most memorable experiences include meeting President John Kennedy when he visited Great Falls, being made an honorary member of a Native American tribe, and watching in amazement as a Raynesford rancher gutted a live rattlesnake on the KRTV morning program, and then watching in horror as dozens of live baby rattlesnakes spilled onto the set.

(April 22, 2010) It's a proud day for KRTV and for a woman that many call a true pioneer of television programming in Montana. Our own Norma Ashby has been selected to be in the Montana Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

Norma was the hostess of KRTV's very first daily show, "Today in Montana." It went on the air in February 1962, and over the next 26 years, Norma interviewed some 26,000 people.

Norma caught up with Katie Stukey in the KRTV studio on Thursday, and said that after being nominated to the Hall of Fame years ago, she'd come to believe she would not live to see this day.

Norma said, "There's just one other woman who's been inducted into the MBA Hall of Fame, and that was Vi Thompson of Missoula, and when she finally got inducted she had died already. So I thought - that's going to be me, too - they're gonna wait til I die, THEN maybe I'll get inducted! So to get in during my lifetime has meant a lot to me, mainly because I'm still alive and kicking and that I can share this with so many of my friends."

Norma is in elite company; the MBA Hall of Fame has just 23 inductees. Norma will be formally inducted in June.

Some highlights of Norma's career include interviewing people such as Johnny Cash, Evel Knievel, Vincent Price, Bob Hope, Pat Nixon, Clint Eastwood, and Robert Goulet, and meeting political leaders including President Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. When pressed to pick a favorite, she admits that Bob Hope was "just the best."

She noted that when she speaks to students across Montana, they are most impressed by a picture of her interviewing Butte native and legendary daredevil Evel Knievel.

Besides interviewing celebrities and politicians, of course, many of her interviews were with regular Montana residents, chatting about Montana's events, places, and people.

Her most memorable on-camera experience was when a rancher from Raynesford visited the studio with a rattlesnake; he whipped out a knife and slit the snake's belly, and more than a dozen baby rattlesnakes poured out onto the studio floor.

That experience is what sparked the title of her book, "Movie Stars & Rattlesnakes," in which she recounts some of the most interesting highlights of her career.

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