Fri Nov 6th, 2020
Robert L. Ortiz
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Tags: Best Radio Station, Bruce LeClaire, Durango’s Best of Durango and La Plata County, Eddie Box Jr., Eddie Box Jr. Media Center, Gary Scibba, Jim Belcher, Ken Brott, Kenny B., Kree Lopez, KSUT, KSUT Four Corners Radio, KSUT Tribal Radio, Matthew Box, Mike May, Mike Santistevan, Richard Gore, Rob Rawls, Robert L. Ortiz, Robert “Buz” Bricca, Sara Sheeler, Scott Henning, Sheila Nanaeto, Solar Barn Raising, Southern Ute Boarding Schools, state-of-the-art studios, Susan Banes, Susie B, Tami Graham, Tyler Gummersall
From humble beginnings, KSUT has made a name for itself as one of eight tribal radio stations in the country, when it first started broadcasting on June 14, 1976. The building, which was once the Nursing Quarters during the Southern Ute Boarding Schools era, later became the dental office, serving Southern Ute tribal members, before becoming the home of KSUT Tribal Radio.
Through the early years, KSUT was solely a Tribal Radio station, with a signal of only 10 watts. KSUT served the community with tribal news and information, as well as personal messages to the membership.
Fast-forward to the year 2019; KSUT secures a matched one-million-dollar donation from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to renovate an existing steel building, set to become the new home of KSUT. Named the Eddie Box Jr. Media Center, KSUT’s new home now houses complete offices for its entire staff. As well as individual state-of-the-art studios in which KSUT Tribal Radio and KSUT Four Corners Radio now broadcasts from. The new Media Center boasts a fully functioning studio for in-house recording and performances. Additionally, all broadcasting and programming will now all be done from the new location.
Both Tribal and Four Corners signals officially went live from the new building on Monday morning, Oct. 12. Mike Santistevan hosted the morning show from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSUT Tribal Radio.
“I was so nervous, but it was awesome!” expressed Santistevan. “We have totally new equipment to broadcast from, and we can hear the difference.”
Jim Belcher was on-air at 7 a.m. with “Morning Edition,” and Ken Brott “Kenny B” hosting “The Morning Blend” at the 8 o’clock hour on KSUT Four Corners Radio. Although, Susan Banes “Susie B” did broadcast on Saturday, Oct. 10 for testing purposes.
“I remember going to KSUT when it was in the Pino Nuche building when my mom worked there,” said Santistevan. “Now, I’m part of the brand-new process, learning the new system – which weighed heavy on my mind making sure everything was good to go, and everything was doing what it was supposed to do.”
KSUT has all new state-of-the art equipment, new radio programming systems and the staff all had to learn the new processes involved with broadcasting in their new environment.
“We have our own production studio,” continued Santistevan. “I’m seeing the progress of [KSUT] Tribal Radio, how it’s grown, and how the behind-the-scenes process works. It’s not all about pushing buttons and playing music.”
The satellite which KSUT receives it’s national syndicated programming was also moved from the old building to the new building on Monday, Oct. 12. With the aide of Eagle Cranes and crew, KSUT staff, Rob Rawls and Scott Henning installed the satellite dish on the south side of the new building, in time for the regular KSUT evening broadcasts.
Southern Ute elder Eddie Box Jr., Matthew Box, and adopted grandson and country musician Tyler Gummersall were in studio Monday, Oct. 19.
Eddie Box Jr. offered a prayer and spoke with KSUT Tribal Station Manager Sheila Nanaeto on-air, where they discussed his involvement with KSUT over the years. Eddie Box Jr. has been a DJ, and a member of the Board of Directors for many years, leading to the newly built media center bearing his namesake. Eddie works for the GIS Department at the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Eddie’s son, Matthew Box, sang an honor song, live in-studio on KSUT Tribal Radio. Matthew Box is the Southern Ute Bear Dance Chief and is a former Chairman for the Tribe. He currently works for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe as a Heavy Equipment Supervisor under Construction Services.
Tyller Gummersall sang some of his own country songs in the studio on Monday as well. Gummersall is an accomplished country singer and musician, who has five studio albums and four EP’s to his credit.
The trio combined their talents on-air that morning, making for a memorable day in the KSUT Studios, Monday, Oct. 19.
Board of Directors
KSUT selected a new Board member, Mike May of Durango to fill a vacant Board of Directors’ seat which was initially held by Sara Sheeler. May is from Chicago, Ill., and now resides in Durango, he works with the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s Rail Events Incorporated, producing the “Polar Express.”
“Getting involved and giving back to the station has long been something that I’ve wanted to do, and I see this as a wonderful opportunity,” stated May in his letter of intent to KSUT.
KSUT’s Board of Directors will remain the same, as officers will retain their positions from the previous year. KSUT’s Board of Directors for 2020-2021 are: Robert L. Ortiz, President (Taos Pueblo); Robert “Buz” Bricca, Vice-President; Gary Scibba, Secretary, and Richard Gore, Treasurer. The remaining board members are: Bruce LeClaire (Rosebud Sioux), Kree Lopez (Southern Ute), and Eddie Box Jr., (Southern Ute) – lifetime Board Member.
Eddie Box Jr., whose name adorns the new building, is a long-time employee of KSUT, he has served on the Board of Directors for over 20 years and has also served as Board President.
The KSUT Board of Directors are currently looking to fill one Southern Ute tribal member seat. If anyone who is a Southern Ute tribal member interested in shaping the future and moving the mission of KSUT, send a letter of intent to KSUT Executive Director, Tami Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tami at 970-563-0255 for more information.
KSUT was awarded Durango’s Best of Durango and La Plata County “Best Radio Station” for the eighth consecutive year by the Durango Herald.
As stated on KSUT’s website about winning the annual award, “Thank you so much for voting KSUT ‘Best Radio Station’ in the Durango Herald’s 2020 Best of Durango & La Plata County Awards, for the eighth consecutive year! We are honored and grateful to our amazing community for the love and support.”
Along with the staff, the satellite dish that sat outside the old KSUT radio station also made the move to the new building. Utilizing a crane, the satellite dish was set in place by KSUT Station Manager Rob Rawls and engineer Scott Henning, with the help of employees from of Eagle Crane. The satellite was operational in time for afternoon programming on KSUT’s first day of broadcasting from the new location.
Foundations are being installed for two solar arrays that will help offset electricity used to power the media center. The 9 kilowatts of power generated by the arrays will be credited to the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) bill for KSUT. Local Non-profit, Solar Barn Raising partnered with KSUT on the solar array installation.
Making the move has been smooth thus far for the KSUT staff, as all employees are now working from the new building, although the coronavirus pandemic did slow down the move by a few months.
“We are waiting to reschedule a grand opening once it is safe for everyone,” stated Tami Graham. “We are [still] optimistic, as we had planned to have a grand opening already.”
Covid-19 safety protocols are being administered and staff are being tested, taking advantage of the Covid-19 testing the Southern Ute Tribe periodically conducts. An official grand opening and open house will be held in the future, once it is deemed safe to conduct a public tour of the studio.
“It’s a dream come true! We have been planning for years to be broadcasting from the new building, it’s like driving a Cadillac after driving a beat-up Pinto,” said Graham. “We are grateful to the Tribe and everyone!”