Dr. Franklin to take the mic as executive director of KSUT

Dr. Robert “Bob” Franklin
On Monday, Feb.2, Dr. Robert “Bob” Franklin took the helm as KSUT’s new executive director.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

After an extensive search that extended cross-country, KSUT secured an accomplished radio and television award winner as their new executive director.

Dr. Robert “Bob” Franklin takes the microphone.

“Radio is a theater of the mind. There’s a connection – music plays a significant role. Sound is more powerful; add voice, ambient sounds and the narrative becomes more compelling. It delivers the point through storytelling.”

Franklin originally from Jackson, Miss., honed his chops at numerous universities involved with Public Radio and television production, before earning his doctorate in Heritage Studies from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.

Franklin studied, indirectly with different cultures through radio.  Discovering different audiences across racial guidelines.

In Jackson, Franklin cut his teeth as an intern at WHBF in a dual role of exploring radio and television, as the two worked in concert, as partners in communication.

Franklin earned his Masters Degree at Jackson State University, as a budding producer, producing a documentary about unemployment titled, “Unemployment, Where Do We Go From Here,” and discovering the power of communication, and how radio combined sound and created visually compelling narratives.

Throughout his early years, Franklin realized that television was harder to get into than radio, while at WJSU at Jackson State University, “there’s more job opportunities in radio,” Franklin stated. Thus adding this experience to his growing portfolio.

As a general manager at many radio and television stations, Franklin was immersed in management as well as media relations.

Franklin spoke of this experience, “as a manager/producer, the experience prepared me to be a better executive director for KSUT.”

Franklin was also involved with a syndicated show about health care in the black community, long before there was health care reform. Franklin produced “Like It Is” which aired on the BBC for more than 20 years.

Earning his PHD in Heritage Studies while at Arkansas State University, Franklin produced an award-winning documentary about The Elaine Massacre, rated in the top 5 historical events in Arkansas history, and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States.

The events in Elaine, Arkansas stemmed from tense race relations and growing concerns about labor unions, pertaining to the black sharecroppers who wanted to unionize. Thus sparking the Elaine Arkansas Race Riot of 1919.

The documentary, “Reconciliation and the Elaine, Arkansas race riot of 1919: forgive or forget” intertwined riot survivors and first-person accounts. The audio documentary also earned an award, The National Association of Black Journalists Award of Excellence.

When asked why he chose a public radio station in Colorado, Franklin said, “I’ve never been to Colorado. Something about the people of the community, they were so inviting.”

Franklin added about being here in Ignacio, “I want to contribute as I can, meeting people – as I have a great respect for culture.”

As KSUT looks to the future and moving into their new station, the Eddie Box Jr. Media Center, Franklin’s first impression of KSUT that he found appealing was the varying types of music and the diversity of programs.

“The music and diversity of programs, it’s a positive dual role, serving the community. Everything was familiar, the program schedule was appealing educationally,” Franklin explained.

When asked how he plans to reach out to the community as the new executive director, Franklin offered, “In radio, we can’t assume the community knows it’s there. We must stand before the community – selling the station to the community. We want to tell the story of public radio, the unique programming here at KSUT.”

“We need to talk to the community, think outside the box, through outreach. The reality of public radio is diverse. It’s about informative programming. Why not listen to the supporter through constructive criticism and put together a program,” he added.

Franklin is no stranger to Tribal news; he did a piece on the first Indian casino to legalize gambling on the Choctaw Reservation in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

He also worked on a Native American piece with another producer for the Radio For Peace International (RFPI) a global news radio station for indigenous people.

Franklin spoke of the uniqueness of KSUT and the challenges of strengthening the Four Corners signal and the Tribal signal they both serve.

“The chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link,” Franklin stated. “From a production standpoint, through outreach and life experiences, KSUT brings cultural experience unique to both stations, the potential is great.”

With the support of Tribal Council it’ll be collective effort, he said.

“By realizing the strengths of diversity, we can bring the community together, through the respect of culture.”

As the new executive director of KSUT, Franklin was asked about the future of KSUT in the coming months.

“I am happy to serve the community and looking forward to hearing input from the community to make the station better. I welcome suggestions as no one person has all the answers,” Franklin said. “I want to come in and help, humble yet confidently, to help the staff and volunteers get to the next level. I run off passion! I want the radio station to be seen in a positive light, with the support of the community to feel that passion.”

With the immediate vision of the Eddie Box Jr. Media Center becoming a reality, Franklin hopes to see it realized in six to nine months by meeting capital campaign, to stay on target after the move in.

KSUT has been fundraising to make the $2 million projected cost for the new media center. Phase 1 will refurbish the building that sits southeast of the current KSUT radio station. KSUT has raised over $867,000 for construction with 1.2 million left for completion of Phase 1.

He spoke of the Tribe’s involvement. “The Tribe has been very generous in supporting KSUT in Phase 1 of the new project, which is the first challenge for KSUT.”

Franklin hopes the center stands for many years to come, through the reporting and archiving of memories.

“I want to have people share their stories to be archived for future generations. To share their voices with us and to project the future, teaching us through their voice. To be archived and educate as film and photographs do,” he said.

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