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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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Major U.S.-Mexico border poll finds opposition to wall

July 18, 2016

Survey from ASU's Cronkite News, Univision and Dallas Morning News also shows respondents find election politics damaging

The overwhelming majority of residents living along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are opposed to the construction of a wall between their countries, according to a major bilingual poll released Monday by Arizona State University’s Cronkite News, Univision News, and The Dallas Morning News.

The Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News Border Poll found:

• 86 percent of border residents in Mexico and 72 percent of border residents in the U.S. were against building a wall between Mexico and the U.S.

• Compared to other border issues, 77 percent of border residents in Mexico and 70 percent of border residents in the U.S. described building the wall as “not important.”

In addition, a majority of residents along both sides of the border also see the tone of the U.S. presidential campaign as potentially damaging for relations between the two countries (Mexico: 69 percent; U.S.: 59 percent).

“As a journalist, I hope this poll serves as a bridge in bringing two countries closer by shining a light on the border, a vibrant, complex and often misunderstood region where people on both sides have more in common than the differences that are too often highlighted,” said Alfredo Corchado, the former Dallas Morning News Mexico City bureau chief who now serves as an editor on the borderlands desk at Cronkite News.

The poll surveyed 1,427 residents in 14 cities along the U.S.-Mexico border to assess attitudes and opinions on important election issues such as the local economy, immigration and border security. Part of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Cronkite News is the student-staffed, professionally led news division of Arizona PBS.

The survey was conducted in April and May by Baselice & Associates Inc., a public research opinion firm based in Austin, Texas, with extensive experience in the Southwest.

“While people in Mexico and the United States have opinions about the border, this unique survey explores the opinions of people who live along that border,” said pollster Mike Baselice, president of Baselice & Associates. “We have the benefit of having asked several of the questions in this survey 15 years ago. Therefore, this survey tracks similarities and differences along with the responses to new questions.”

In comparison to the 2001 poll, opinions on the status of the border region have become less favorable. In 2001, roughly 40 percent of residents on both sides of the border felt the region had gotten better. When asked the same question this year, less than 20 percent said the region had gotten better.

The 2016 poll, which had an overall margin of error of 2.6 percent, surveyed residents in seven pairs of “sister cities” stretching from California/Baja California to Arizona/Sonora and Texas/Tamaulipas.

It showed that residents in neighboring border communities were deeply connected. Both share similar concerns for their families on issues such as safety, jobs and education.

• When asked: “Do you like your neighbors in U.S./Mexico?” 86 percent of U.S. border residents said yes, as did 79 percent of border residents in Mexico.

• When asked: “Which of the following best describes how much your city depends on your sister city across the border?” 79 percent of U.S. border city residents and 69 percent of Mexico’s border city residents said their cities are either “somewhat dependent” or “very much dependent” upon each other.

• When sister city residents (such as those in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Chihuahua) were asked if they favored or opposed allowing workers to cross the border to work and then return home, 76 percent of U.S. border residents and 85 percent of border residents in Mexico were in favor.

“The U.S.-Mexico border is a major issue this election year,” said Christopher Callahan, Cronkite School dean and Arizona PBS CEO. “This extraordinary poll captures the voices of the people who actually live and work along the border, providing a critical component to the national discourse this election season and showing how united border residents are on many issues.”

In addition to publishing the poll’s results, Univision News has assigned a seasoned television reporter and a team of digital journalists to focus on its most relevant findings. Univision Network’s national newscast, “Noticiero Univision,” will feature their reporting during the week of the poll’s publication, while Univision News’ website,, will launch a permanent section dedicated to border issues that will include the poll-related stories, videos and graphics prepared specifically by its team of journalists as well as other stories dealing with life on the border.

“In the midst of an exceptionally contentious presidential election in which immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border have become hot topics, this poll provides a fascinating and underreported perspective that may surprise many voters,” said Daniel Coronell, president of News, Univision Communications, Inc. “Univision News has always given special attention to all aspects of the immigration debate, and now during the 2016 election cycle we are even more committed to being Hispanic America’s go-to source of information and analysis on border-related issues. This poll and our new dedicated digital section are two examples of this focus.”

The Dallas Morning News, part of A. H. Belo Corporation, will feature a multimedia package of stories on its website,, as well as a full print report in its July 18 and July 19 editions. The news package includes a close look at how residents in Texas towns from El Paso to Brownsville view life along the border.

“The Dallas Morning News is proud to be a partner in this project,” said Mike Wilson, editor of The Dallas Morning News. “Polling people on both sides of the border provides special insight into issues affecting both countries and gives readers — and political leaders — some of the information they need to make effective public policy decisions.”

The Cronkite News Borderlands team of students, led by award-winning veteran journalists Corchado and Angela Kocherga, has produced multimedia packages and reports for the Cronkite News nightly newscast, which reaches 1.9 million households in Arizona, and the Cronkite News website.

“This election year, a lot of people are talking about the border and the wall but not to border residents,” Kocherga said. “Those who live on the border know the issues firsthand, and they are directly affected by policies. This groundbreaking poll reflects their views.”

This summer, Cronkite News student journalists have traveled to the border, interviewing residents in English and Spanish about the Border Poll. Cronkite student Courtney Pedroza visited seven border cities between Nogales, Arizona, and Laredo, Texas, to interview people and document their issues and concerns.

“Working on this border poll opened my eyes to a community I hadn’t really seen before,” Pedroza said. “One I don’t think people understand well. With my camera, it gave me the opportunity to document their lives, hopes and frustrations.”

The Cronkite News-Univision-Dallas Morning News Border Poll was funded by the media partners and the public through the crowdfunding platform, Beacon, which matched the contributions.

Between the three news organizations, numerous stories and graphics are being produced for this project.

“Our Borderlands team is committed to telling stories of life in the region,” said Kevin Dale, executive editor of Cronkite News at Arizona PBS. “This project with our partners at Univision and The Morning News illuminates the issues and concerns faced every day by those residents.”


Top photo: Courtney Pedroza, Cronkite News