KSUT turns 45, celebrates with classic music

KSUT went on the air June 14, 1976, one of the first eight tribal radio stations in the United States. KSUT had only a 10 watt signal that could be heard for about 20 miles, and broadcast only four hours a day. Lillian Seibel, KSUT’s first station manager, recalls: “People appreciated [KSUT] right from the beginning. It was exciting for them to hear native music.”
Eddie Box Jr., who's namesake adorns the new KSUT Building, the Eddie Box Jr. Media Center.
courtesy KSUT
courtesy KSUT

KSUT is celebrating 45 years on the air. The Southern Ute Tribe was one of the earliest pioneers of Native American radio. When KSUT signed on for the first time on June 14, 1976, it was one of only eight tribal stations in the country.

Long time board member and station volunteer Eddie Box, Jr. reflects back on 45 years: The station came to life as a communications service for tribal members. Originally, the signal covered Ignacio and part of the Pine River Valley. Programming was mostly in the Ute language and included cultural affairs, community news, personal messages, traditional Native American music, and rock and popular music.

A growing demand for public radio in the Four Corners presented KSUT with an opportunity. In 1984 the station’s board of directors voted to expand the station’s broadcast appeal and area. It became an affiliate of both National Public Radio and American Public Radio and added a variety of diverse music programming to the lineup.

While the station’s success as a regional public radio service was apparent, it still needed to serve its original mission as a tribal radio service.

In June of 1998, KSUT returned to its roots by splitting into two signals and launching Southern Ute Tribal Radio. It offers Native American programming daily, and simulcasts the other signal, Four Corners Public Radio the remainder of the time. Programming, like the days of its roots, includes culture, news, and both Native American and popular music, as well as special tribal meetings, Ignacio High School sports, and other events. Recent new projects include storytelling initiatives Native Lens, and Native Braids. Tribal Radio is an affiliate of NativeVoice.

Tribal Radio is heard at 91.3 FM in Southwest Colorado serving Southern Ute and Jicarilla Apache Tribal Lands; and at 89.7 FM serving Northwest New Mexico and Navajo Tribal Lands; and 100.9 Towaoc, serving the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Four Corners Public Radio serves 14 communities in the Four Corners, including: Durango, Silverton, Cortez, Mancos, and Pagosa Springs – Colorado; Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington — New Mexico; and parts of northeast Arizona and southeast Utah. The station airs news, eclectic music, entertainment, storytelling, and documentary programming, and is an affiliate of NPR, the BBC, American Public Media, and Public Radio International. KSUT is the Four Corners’ home for popular public radio programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me!, This American Life, and others.

The station broadcasts from its new studios in the Eddie Box, Jr, Media Center in Ignacio, Colorado.

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