Tribal radio gets big signal boost

Listeners as far away as Shiprock and Bloomfield now will be able to tune into KSUT Southern Ute Tribal Radio thanks to a federal grant that allowed the public radio station to broadcast into northwest New Mexico.

KSUT Tribal Radio began broadcasting from the south bluff in Farmington last month, said Rob Rawles, KSUT's administrative director.

The station will broadcast at 89.7 FM with a mix of local and national programs such as Native America Calling and National Native News.

The station features a broad mix of music programs, including one of the nation's only radio programs dedicated to traditional Native American music.

The station currently broadcasts to as many as 1,000 listeners between Archuleta and Montezuma counties, said Sheila Nanaeto, Tribal Radio's director. With the new signal, she estimated the station potentially could reach 30,000 additional listeners, including many members of the Navajo Nation.

In addition to the signal extension, the station also will add two hours of original programming to its lineup, Nanaeto said. One new show called "Sound of the Dreamcatcher" will feature contemporary flute music, and the other show, "Drumbeats of the Night," will feature drum music.

"We wanted to have more tribal radio on the air for listeners in New Mexico, and we wanted to provide something that you can't get anywhere in the Four Corners," Nanaeto said.

The now-defunct Public Telecommunications and Facilities Program awarded the grant. The program, which is under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, gave KSUT $110,000, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe gave $35,000 in matching funding, Rawles said.

KSUT Public Radio is an independent nonprofit public broadcasting organization that was founded by the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council in 1976 as an information source for tribal members. In the years since then, the station has evolved into two radio signals - KSUT Four Corners Public Radio and KSUT Tribal Radio.

Both radio signals reach four states and a combined quarter of a million people, according to a news release.