On the Rez: Permits in hand for 29 new Native stations
Native American public radio stations will nearly double in number if tribes and nonprofits are able to build the 29 or more that have received FCC construction permits. There were already 33 Native-controlled stations, mostly on reservations.
Sites range geographically from the Ka’u district of Hawaii’s big island, licensed to a nonprofit in Hilo, to northeastern Minnesota, licensed to a Chippewa tribal band (list below). Twenty-one of the 29 CPs are held by tribal governments, said Loris Ann Taylor, executive director of Native Public Media.
Among the future listeners: Native Alaskans in dozens of tiny subsistence villages where people catch, smoke and dry salmon on the roadless tundra and where the radio plays constantly in the general store, according to Ron Daugherty, g.m. of KYUK-AM in Bethel. The Bethel station snagged seven CPs for FM repeaters to reach the villages.
Taylor said last week she continues to hear of additional CPs granted, as the commission grinds out approvals following up on its first-in-years application opportunity in October 2007.
Thirty-seven Native American groups filed 58 applications for stations during the free-for-all a year ago. Some found there were no unused FM frequencies available in their vicinities, especially in more densely populated areas, Taylor said.
“It raises the issue of inclusion,” she told Current, noting that there are more than 500 federally recognized Native American nations. She suggested that federal policymakers take steps to bring broadband Internet service to those and other rural regions, for Native Americans and others.
“When you have certain tribes that are locked out and in saturated markets,” Taylor said, “it makes a great deal of sense to make sure they are on the broadband highway.”
Where reservations have stations, listeners really tune in. “They’re hearing news about who died, who was born, what celebrations are happening,” Taylor said. In the White Mountain Apache reservation of east central Arizona, she said, almost every community member listens to KNNB. [Feature on KNNB, 2002.]
Daugherty, g.m. of Bethel’s KYUK—“Right now there’s four inches of snow, it’s a clear blue sky with an ambient temperature of 16 below,” he says—is pleased to offer his listeners new services. Bethel Broadcasting will use seven of its CPs for new FM repeaters, one for a new FM service in Bethel and one to replace an existing translator.
Tribes from Bethel to Hawaii and across America joined forces in the campaign for FM frequencies.
John Crigler, an attorney who has been working with Native radio efforts since 1981, said Native Public Media coordinated “the first effort I know of to try to organize that world.”
“Tribes, like nonprofits, are generally used to working in isolation,” Crigler observes.
NPM, affiliated with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, said last week it is expanding its efforts to assist Native groups in using broadband as well as broadcast hookups.
The group reassigned its director of station services, Peggy Berryhill (Muscogee Creek), to serve as director of media architecture, overseeing the expanded effort. Berryhill broke ground years ago as a Native American producer at NPR and as p.d. for pubradio stations in San Francisco; Berkeley, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M.
Camille Lacapa (Hopi-Tewa), formerly station and audience relations manager of Native Voice One, the pubradio satellite network, was appointed NPM’s network services manager. She was station manager of WOJB-FM in Reserve, Wis., from 1995 to 2005.
Taylor said tribes are finding their own mixes of funding for the stations. Some will apply for Public Telecommunications Facilities Program matching grants.
Unofficial list of CPs received
The 29 construction permits tallied by Taylor so far were given to 19 organizations in these regions:
Alaska and Hawaii: Bethel Broadcasting Inc., Bethel, Alaska (9 CPs); Haola Inc., Hilo, Hawaii; Hoonah City School District, Hoonah, Alaska; Kotzebue Broadcasting Inc., Kotzebue, Alaska.
Midwest: Bois Forte Tribal Council, Nett Lake, Minn.; Corporation for Native Broadcasting, Sisseton, S.D.; Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Cloquet, Minn.; Native American Community Board Inc., Lake Andes, S.D.; Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Rosebud, S.D.; Santee Sioux Nation, Niobrara, Neb.
Southwest: Cherokee Nation, Tehlequah, Okla.; Dine College, Tsaile, Ariz.; Navaho Technical College, Crownpoint, N.M.
West: Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Elder, Mont.; Fremont County School District No. 21, Fort Washakie, Wyo.; Karuk Tribe of California (2 CPs), Happy Camp, Calif.; Kute Inc., Ignacio, Colo.; Native Media Resource Center, Gualala, Calif.
Web page posted Nov. 25, 2008
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