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Native American radio summit empowers station owners, prospects

Advocates to discuss how to expand, improve Native-owned radio stations.
Conference at Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix features FCC commissioner.
July 15, 2016

Media diversity advocates say Native-owned radio stations are especially important on rural reservations and that more networks are needed

Loris Taylor knows firsthand how tough it can be to run a radio station in Indian Country.

When she first took over KUYI 88.1 FM on the Hopi reservation in northern Arizona in 2000, she had no support system and at one point made an engineer sketch equipment diagrams on an office chalkboard so she could see how everything fit together.

It was a bad signal for Taylor and others who say radio transmissions are vital in rural areas with limited access to newspapers, local TV and consistent internet service. “I literally knew nothing, and I was the general manager,” Taylor said. “There was no learning curve for me because everything was a straight vertical line.”

But now, thanks in part to efforts from Taylor, who left the station 11 years ago to help start the diversity advocacy group Native Public Media, the task isn’t as daunting and radio is a growing platform on reservations across the U.S.

Taylor’s group aims to improve and expand existing Native-owned and -operated radio stations and to increase the number and reach of such stations. Native Public Media — along with Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute, the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy, and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters — is hosting a three-day summit starting July 19 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix. Organizers plan to give Native American broadcasters an overview of radio station management, operation requirements, federal regulations, programming, funding and engineering.

“Tribal radio is a lifeline on tribal reservations,” said Traci Morris, American Indian Policy Institute director. She said the conference will provide a needed boost and that “the Cronkite School is the perfect place for Native radio and media professionals to assemble and to consult with the FCC.”

A woman sits in front of radio recording equipment.

Loris Taylor, president and CEO of Native Public Media, has made it her mission
to expand access to local radio on Indian reservations across the U.S.

Tribes have been lobbying the federal agency to grant more broadcast licenses to Native owners on tribal lands. Since 2007, the FCC has approved dozens of new stations in Indian Country. In 2010, the agency adopted a “tribal priority” rule to make it easier for Native owners to obtain radio licenses. The agency’s former Native affairs liaison, Geoffrey C. Blackwell, who also will attend the summit, said in a 2013 statement that the rule is intended to help “provide radio service tailored to specific tribal needs and cultures” and foster “localism and diversity of ownership.”

There are more than 560 federally recognized tribes across the U.S. comprising more than 4 million people. Including the recent growth, advocates say there are currently 58 Indian radio stations and about 20 more headed toward approval. The expansion is promising, but not enough, they say.

“Most of Indian Country is still dark,” Taylor said. “We’re just not wired.”

Summit attendees will hear from FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, who organizers say has become known as an advocate for media diversity. Clyburn didn’t return an email seeking comment for this story, but she is scheduled to speak Wednesday.   

For Taylor, the conference marks a significant moment, but it by no means signals that her work is over. With more stations on tribal lands, people will be better informed about government, public safety and other issues that affect their communities, she said. Native people also will be able to turn back negative stereotypes by telling their own stories, even in remote areas, she said.

“Radio is a technology that serves Indian Country well,” Taylor said, “because all it requires is a small appliance in the household.”


Top photo: Producer Justin Miller of KLND 89.5 FM in McLaughlin, South Dakota, takes a seat behind the microphone.

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Have trouble being honest with your doctor? ASU researchers may be able to help.
When you know how someone is really feeling, you can help them be more open.
July 19, 2016

ASU researchers use cutting-edge technology to build a better health care practitioner

If you’ve ever lied to your doctor, chances are you’re not alone. But whether you’re ashamed of eating too much bacon or you’re trying to hide a smoking habit, the fact is, the more honest you are, the better equipped a physician is to help you.

So what if your doctors could tell whether you were hiding something? Better yet, what if they could adjust their bedside manner so that you never felt the urge to fib in the first place?

That’s what a couple of researchers at Arizona State University are hoping to make a reality.

At the Motivational Interviewing Laboratory on ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus, professor Jack ChisumJack Chisum is a clinical associate professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, an academic unit of the College of Health Solutions at ASU. and tech support analyst Glenn Brown are putting cutting-edge technologies to work in an attempt to build a better health care practitioner.

Using a combination of facial recognition and layered voice analysis software, they have been able to analyze an individual’s emotional responses during conversation with remarkable accuracy.

“In the near future, we’ll tell you what you’re thinking,” Brown said.

Turns out, when you know what someone is really thinking and feeling, you gain insight into ways you can make them feel more comfortable and forthcoming.

two people talking at table
ASU graduate students Frank Medina (left) and Neil Soneson conduct a mock interview.


Soon, Chisum and Brown plan to incorporate two more software capabilities that promise to further enhance the accuracy of their emotion analyses: one that measures physiological responses, such as blood pressure and perspiration, and one that measures brain activity.

Although their primary goal is to improve communication between and among patients and practitioners in the health care sector, the possible technical applications are manifold — the duo have received inquiries from professionals in fields ranging from law to insurance to business management.

“Anywhere where you can have two people in dialogue, this can be used,” Chisum explained.

How it works

Four hundred ninety-one — that’s the number of points on a human face the Noldus facial recognition software can detect.

So even if you think you can hide your disdain for a certain line of questioning from your doctor, Chisum assures, “You can’t hide from this technology.”

As for the voice analysis software, it splits the voice out to 1/10,000th of a second — meaning for every five seconds of vocalization, there are 5,000 sections of the voice that can be analyzed. (The software has most notably been used for counter-terrorism efforts to detect high levels of anxiety in a would-be terrorist’s voice, alerting officials to possible danger.)


Using these two very powerful tools to analyze video footage of an individual during a conversation gives you an incredibly accurate, incredibly detailed look at how they are truly reacting.

Noldus uses infrared technology to track minute facial movements, which it translates into a graph depicting different-colored lines for different emotions. Similarly, the voice analysis tracks minute vocal changes that indicate a change in emotion. When a researcher looks at the resulting data and sees a change or spike in emotion, all he or she has to do is back up the video to that point in time to see what caused it.

“Putting the face and the voice together, that’s measurable,” Chisum said. “A very finite measurement.”

In the case of one of Chisum’s clients who agreed to participate in a study about obesity, reviewing her data showed him that she reacted negatively to questions about her ideal body weight and exercise habits — even though she appeared outwardly neutral or even happy. Chisum was then able to share that information with her psychiatrist, who helped her to focus on those areas and work through them.

Chisum and Brown are now in the testing phases of implementing software that can detect changes in a person’s physiological responses. Called Shimmer, it attaches to a person’s fingers to measure things such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation and perspiration levels.

Eventually, they’d also like to incorporate a neurological component, using an EEGAn electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp. net to detect changes in brain activity.

What’s next

Considering the potential this technology has to enact positive change on any number of professional fields, it may be surprising to discover Chisum and Brown are the first to be researching its use for that purpose (as opposed to more stern purposes, such as interrogation).

man watching video using facial reading tech

Glenn Brown analyzes video footage using the 
facial recognition and layered voice analysis software.

“No one else in the world is doing this,” Chisum said. “And we know that because all the software providers have told us that.”

And the best part?

“We’re not confined to this lab,” said Chisum.

Data captured by the software can be analyzed from anywhere in the world. Theoretically, a hospital in Kathmandu could record a conversation between a doctor and a nurse, send it to Chisum and Brown to be analyzed at ASU, and then make communication improvements based on the results.

There’s only one real obstacle: “We need more people,” Chisum lamented.

He and Brown simply cannot do it alone; they need more students to train in the technologies who can then disseminate it across various professional sectors. But the outlook is good, with numbers of interested parties growing daily.

“What we’re trying to do is trying to find out what are you doing well, and how can we augment that? And what are you not doing well, and how can we decrease that?” Chisum said.

Their hope is that the use of this type of technology will eventually become commonplace in the health care sector. Where it goes beyond that is limited only by human ingenuity.