About the Show
Hosted by veteran journalist and interviewer, Lorene Mills, Report from Santa Fe brings the very best of the esteemed, beloved, controversial, famous and emergent minds and voices of the day to a weekly audience that spans the state of New Mexico. During nearly 40 years on the air, Lorene Mills and Report from Santa Fe have given viewers a unique opportunity to become part of a series of remarkable conversations – always thoughtful and engaging, often surprising – held in a warm and civil atmosphere. Gifted with a quiet intelligence and genuine grace, Lorene Mills draws guests as diverse as Valerie Plame, Alan Arkin, and Stewart Udall into easy and open exchange, with plenty of room and welcome for wit, authenticity, and candor.
Lorene Carpenter Mills began her career in academia, earning her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado. Her studies took her around the world until she met Ernie Mills, the legendary New Mexico newsman. They were married in the early 1980s and settled in Santa Fe, NM. As a team, the couple produced a legislative newsletter, three daily radio broadcasts, and a weekly television show. Lorene was the editor, producer, and camerawoman until Ernie's death in 2003. With the star and legend of Mills Communications gone, Lorene was faced with a very difficult decision. Either she could let the business disappear, or she could continue Ernie's work with the same passion and integrity he had committed to it. In April 2003 Lorene stepped in front of the camera and the keyboard.
Since she assumed the role of interviewer, Lorene has expanded the weekly television show "Report From Santa Fe" to include guests of national and international caliber. Jane Goodall, Gore Vidal, Deepak Chopra, Noam Chomsky, Mickey Rooney, Sen. John Kerry, Ralph Nader and others have all graced Lorene's small studio in the State Capitol Building. Lorene remains committed to New Mexico news and politics, interviewing guests such as Governor Bill Richardson, Rudolfo Anaya, Elias Rivera, Speaker Ben Lujan, Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, as well as most New Mexico legislators, Cabinet Secretaries and business leaders.
"Report from Santa Fe" airs statewide on the New Mexico PBS Network, which has carried the program for almost forty years. It is the preeminent public affairs program in the state.
December 29, 1926 - February 26, 2003
Ernest Thomas Patrick Mills spent the last 40 years of his life as New Mexico's most beloved journalist. He was widely respected for his non-adversarial approach to reporting on government. In this, he was "old-school" in the best sense; for him, it was said, "partisan politics didn't matter as much as civility, respect and friendship."
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ernie moved to New York City as a child. His career in print journalism began in the 1940s when he wrote for the New York Herald Tribune. In 1956, serendipity brought him to New Mexico, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. After two years as managing editor of the Gallup Independent, he moved to Albuquerque to cover the state capitol for the Albuquerque Journal. He left journalsim in 1960 for a 5-year stint in public relations and as press secretary to Governor John Burroughs, then returned to the profession as a broadcaster. Based in Santa Fe, he reached a statewide audience with his syndicated public radio broadcasts, "Dateline New Mexico" and "Roundhouse and Capitol Report." His weekly public television show, "Report from Santa Fe," featuring interviews with policymakers at every level, was broadcast on all New Mexico public television stations for thirty years. He also wrote a column about the doings of state government for "Round the Roundhouse," a monthly publication for state government employees. Tagged on to the end of his reports, both written and spoken, was his famous closing line, "Don't say we didn't tell you!" In 1995, the New Mexico Broadcasters Association honored him with their Broadcaster of the Year Award and named him dean of the capitol press corps.
Mills' courage was legendary, and not only the courage it took to remain in the fray of state politics with integrity, equanimity and humor. In 1968, he paid his own way to Vietnam, where, as a journalist in flak jacket and fatigues, he sought out and spoke with New Mexico soldiers. An equally harrowing test of courage came in 1980, when he served on a team of negotiators during the deadly uprising at New Mexico State Penitentiary. He was the only journalist whom inmates trusted to admit inside the prison walls while fifteen guards were still being held hostage. His efforts led to the release of those hostages.
His interest in higher education spanned a lifetime. In 1955, he graduated cum laude in public administration from Rutgers University. He received honorary doctorates from New Mexico State University and the College of the Southwest, and was lifetime honorary alumnus of Eastern New Mexico University. He served on WNMU's board of Regents from 1987-90. He was a tireless champion of Southwestern New Mexico. He was instrumental in bringing the Basic Economic Development Course to WNMU, and taught in the course from its inception in 1993 until 2002. He also served Silver City and Grant County as a Chamber of Commerce Honorary Prospector.
In 1996, a tribute was held to honor Mills and his long career of service to the state. Among the more than 600 dinner guests were six former governors and both U.S. Senators. Mills, touched by the warm reception, thanked the crowd and hoped for a future in which the "meanness," as he put it, of politics and journalism would give way to understanding.
On February 26, 2003, Ernie Mills passed away. He was memoralized by hundreds of mourners, from the highest levels of state government to those he affectionately termed the "gatos flacos," the everyday folks of his beloved New Mexico. Through his decade of service, he built a powerful legacy of inspiration and high standards of excellence.