Z. Susanne Aikman, longtime host of AlterNative Voices on KUVO in Denver, Colo., and a floor director for Colorado Public TV, died June 21 of cancer. She was 69.
Aikman began her radio show about Native American culture in 1992. For ten years of its run, the program aired on 54 stations nationwide. It was also an inaugural show for the first all–Native American radio network, American Indian Radio on Satellite.
In addition to her radio work, Aikman worked at CPT for more than two decades, helping to produce local series. “She was a pivotal member of the production team for many different series and was a calm and effective leader in the sometimes chaotic world of live television production," said Dominic Dezzutti, v.p. of content development at CPT.
She also was a master of traditional Native American beadwork, authoring a book on the subject in 1980. “She was truly a renaissance woman,” said Joan Bolduc, CPT office manager.
In 2010, Aikman took a leave of absence from her broadcasting jobs and traveled to more than 90 Indian reservations in the western U.S., urging their populations to be counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, according to friend Joyce Plants.
The final episode of AlterNative Voices will air June 29 as a memorial for Aikman. She had always intended the show to end with her, according to Bolduc. KUVO will replace the program with another also devoted to Native American issues.
A memorial service will be held July 3 at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Susie Aikman Memorial Scholarship for Native American Students at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.