IGNACIO – After a million-dollar fundraising effort, Ignacio’s KSUT Tribal Radio broke ground Monday for its new 5,000-square-foot building.
Representatives from the Jaynes Corp. construction team, KSUT board and staff, and members of the Southern Ute Tribal Council gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off a $1.5 million building renovation, which will turn the tribe’s former casino building into the Eddie Box Jr. Media Center. The station raised $1 million in capital campaign donations by September 2018 in order to get a $1 million match from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The extra revenue will help pay for equipment and other supplies that are needed to upgrade the station, with fundraising still occurring.
Tami Graham, KSUT executive director, said that moving into a new space “would mean everything” to the station.
“It’ll be such a better working environment ... just more room to breathe and grow and evolve,” Graham said. If all goes according to plan, KSUT will be in its new home by February 2020.
Graham said she had “huge gratitude” to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for leasing the building to KSUT for $1 per year.
The tribe hopes to see the partnership continue, said Lindsay Box, SUIT spokesperson.
“This is something long-coming,” she said. The collaboration with the nonprofit “is something that we’re proud of, and we want to continue (the station’s) legacy.”
The nonprofit radio station, which went on air in 1976, is best known for National Public Radio news and an eclectic mix of music. Now, as Four Corners Public Radio and Southern Ute Tribal Radio, it serves communities in four states.
They’ve been providing those services from a 1,300-square-foot, former Indian Health Services Clinic, which Graham said they outgrew about 25 years ago. As part of their capital campaign, they raised $750,000 for equipment and other supplies and are still actively fundraising for the project.
Instead of having two to three people squeeze into offices and depending on antiquated equipment, they will have modern broadcast equipment for two on-air studios and three production rooms in the new building.
With the new building, Graham anticipates more than just a physical expansion. For listeners, that means a more reliable signal and better sound quality. It also means more local, regional and public affairs programming.
The nonprofit also hopes to create new programs, including a media training center for Native Americans. It will offer grant-funded training in multimedia production, podcast creation and radio news production. In 2021, it plans to hire a media center director.
“It’ll be a training ground for Native Americans throughout Indian country,” Graham said.