Colorado Radio Station Grants Will Foster Community Engagement and Elevate Indigenous Voices

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Several Colorado public radio organizations have received grants to strengthen and advance local news and better meet the needs of residents.

Awarded by the Colorado Media Project, the three-year grants are part of CMP’s efforts to support newsrooms, journalists and media entrepreneurs across the state, help launch initiatives and strengthen service to Coloradans.

CMP chose the outlets based on their missions to serve Colorado residents underserved by other outlets due to language, race, ethnicity or geography, according to a release from CMP. January 26 press.

KSJD in Cortez and KSUT in Ignacio will receive $135,000 to launch and support “Voices from the Edge of the Colorado Plateau.” The multi-year project will include a new full-time journalist position focusing on Indigenous affairs and producing content for broadcast and online. The stations will also expand community engagement in their rural southwestern Colorado area.

“For us in the Four Corners area, we are definitely in an information desert, and we are finding ways to do our part to increase the availability of local and regional information,” said Tami Graham, Executive Director of KSUT, to Current. “As part of this, we also know that with the large Native American population in our area…those voices are being heard throughout the region.”

KSUT was founded by the Southern Ute tribe in 1976. Although now independent of the tribe, Graham said it could still play a role in raising the voices of perspectives that have traditionally not been heard in the community, including Indigenous, Latinx and LGBTQ. voice. The station hopes to create an advisory board of community members to share coverage ideas and give feedback on the station’s stories.

“It’s really specific to our reporting on this topic – underserved and underheard voices, and we don’t want to assume that we know, internally, where the stories and information are in our community,” a- she declared. “We want… our community to help inform the kind of stories they want to hear from these people.”

Rocky Mountain Community Radio is also among the public media receiving a CMP grant. The coalition of stations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming will receive $120,000 for a new reporter or editor position.

“For the better part of two decades, our goal has been to increase the content that we are able to share on our network, and one of the fundamental aspects of that to make it work is to connect the dots between our rooms writing and helping with content. distribution in terms of sharing and editing stories and making those stories digestible for our regional audience,” said Tyler Lucas, RMCR Grants Manager.

The network of 19 mainly rural and mountain community radio stations collectively reaches more than 415,000 listeners each week. The new position funded by the grant will expand thematic collaboration on stories, partnerships and distribution of work between stations.

Donors also contribute to the post, which Lucas hopes will continue after the grant ends. Once the job of the person in the position kicks off, donors will see value in supporting them, he said.

“We anticipate there will be increased interest in helping to fund this type of infrastructure that is really critical in terms of the media environment in the region,” Lucas said.

Graham said she expects KSUT and KSJD to be able to maintain the Indigenous Affairs reporter position. She hopes to use the momentum of her post to expand her efforts to train younger and promising Native American journalists.

KSUT has received several grants over the past few years to elevate Native American voices, as part of its strategic plan to expand local and regional programming. He also aims to create a Tribal Media Center in his new building which he recently moved into as part of a fundraising campaign. The center would train young Native Americans interested in journalism and develop reporting in the region.

Having an Indigenous affairs reporter is important for telling stories in tribal communities that don’t just focus on tragedy and hardship, Graham said.

“A lot of times when Native Americans in our area are portrayed in the media, it’s because something really negative or bad happened, and the media is always all over it,” she said. “Part of our vision is to elevate these stories of the truly amazing and wonderful things happening in our tribal communities to the tribal people in our area.”

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