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Summit Aims to Boost Native American Radio Access

Commissioner Clyburn to offer keynote on importance of station ownership diversity

How important is radio to the Native American community? Just ask station KUYI(FM)/88.1, a station on the Hopi reservation in Arizona, or KWLP(FM)/100.9, a station on the Hualapai Tribe reservation, which encompasses a million acres along the Grand Canyon.

When the first native radio stations began broadcasting in the 1970s, the goal was to provide news and information in areas where telephones and other media did not reach, said Native Voice One (a programming network that creates content designed to educate and celebrate indigenous life, it describes itself), whether that was across vast reservations or arctic communities.

Now with nearly 80% of Native Americans in the United States living off-reservation, radio is not only an effective way to preserve native cultures it also serves to educate the broader non-native audience about Native American issues.

In an effort to increase those Native American tribes’ access to radio broadcasting opportunities, this week Phoenix will play host to the National Tribal Radio Summit, a conference co-hosted by the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy, as well as Native Public Media, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Arizona State University.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will offer the day’s first keynote on the importance of broadcast station ownership diversity.

The three-day summit is designed to encourage tribal entities to apply for new radio licenses and will touch on a series of wide-ranging issues, such as the basics of running a radio station, applying for a station license and understanding FCC regulations.

The summit’s introductory legal session, for example, will explore the FCC’s new Tribal Priority, a 2010 initiative designed to help expand the number of radio stations owned by American Indian tribes broadcasting to tribal lands.

The summit will also offer a crash course on the FCC Native Learning Lab, a computer-based mobile resource lab that provides on-demand, individual assistance with FCC Web-based resources, systems and applications.

The summit is being held July 19–21 at Arizona State University.