Fri Apr 24th, 2020
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
KSUT is beginning to make its self at home in the brand-new Eddie Box Jr. Media Center. KSUT Four Corners signal and Tribal Radio had their hearts set on a spring ribbon cutting ceremony for the Eddie Box Jr. media center, and the opportunity to broadcast from a brand-new station after years of strategic planning and fundraising efforts. However, coronavirus has dashed those immediate plans, but the folks running KSUT Public Radio have gotten creative and moved ahead undeterred in these challenging times.
“We have been able to quickly adapt and respond,” explained KSUT Director Tami Graham. “We have had to pivot.”
One thing that KSUT has heard over and over again, is that they are a lifeline to those without internet, proving relevant news stories to a community in need.
“Once we were in the new building, we had a plan to create more local content. KSUT [now] has two contract reporters covering COVID-19. Since March 26 we have done over 25 stories,” Graham said. “We ramped up our news reporting due to the crisis. We are putting a lot more content on our website. Donations are supporting this; we are crowdsourcing funds.” Winning additional grants and getting funds from local donors, KSUT originally raised $9K, matched by three donors. That number is now up to $11K. The money was raised entirely through local donors, including Alpine Bank as a business sponsor. KDUR and The Point are also carrying the stories in an effort to reach the broadest audience possible.
“[The reporters] are reaching out and asking, ‘what are the important stories in our community?’ Tami has been instrumental in all of this,” explained Sheila Naneato, Director of Tribal Radio.
“We were focused on getting into the new building, Graham explained, and with the limitations imposed through social distancing practices, the new building is serving as welcome office space for employees as needed. KSUT is limited to a maximum of three people at any given time in the current building, due to its small size and confined spaces.
“I never dreamed we would be using the new space as a safety measure. It is allowing us to slowly move and get set up over there with administrative staff. I want to give props to Southern Ute Shared Services for setting up workstations in the new building, which gives us physical separation and space,” she emphasized. “My guess it will be July, or August, once we are broadcasting from the new building.”
The project contractor, Jaynes is almost wrapped up, Graham explained. They are doing a few final punchline items in the building with the Tribe’s consent. Networking and wiring for the new building are on pause. Once it is safe for the engineers to get back to work, set up for broadcasting can begin.
Meanwhile, staff is still broadcasting from the KSUT studios a block away, while practicing safe social distancing measures.
“We’ve gone to only essential staff, with core staff doing on air shifts. We each take a weeklong shift, Monday-Friday, 8-12pm. We do our live on-air program each morning,” Naneato said.
“If there is news that needs to get out, we use our Facebook page to share Tribal press releases. We also know that Tribal Radio is more important than ever. Not everyone has social media or access to the internet,” she emphasized. “They can tune into Tribal Radio from anywhere in the Four Corners to hear what’s going on.”
The only live interviews that KSUT Tribal radio is conducting are with Chairman Christine Sage. The Tribe’s Incident Management Team (IMT) schedules those public addresses to the membership as needed, explained Naneato. “Chairman is only one who has access to the studio.”
“We clean and sanitize between shifts. Everyone has taken a lot of effort to make sure our workspaces are clean and sanitized,” she said.
“One thing I can say, we have always been able to adapt to any situation put in front of us. Our staff has the experience, they think outside the box,” Naneato said.