Grants bolster Native radio program services

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Two foundation grants will back capacity-building for Koahnic Broadcasting Corporation, the public media nonprofit that operates KNBA in Anchorage, Alaska, and produces the nationally distributed broadcasts Native America Calling and National Native News.

The grants, totaling $375,000, support a three-year effort to strengthen KBC’s Native radio programming and distribution services. Ford Foundation committed $300,000 to the initiative and the Nathan Cummings Foundation provided the balance.

KBC distributes news, public affairs and cultural programs through Native Voice One, a service that has gained 11 new affiliates this past year and anticipates serving new tribal stations in Louisiana, Idaho and New York State, according to a news release announcing the grants. “This is critical support at this time when the FCC has issued a priority for Tribal organizations to obtain broadcast radio licenses,” said KBC President Jaclyn Sallee. “This can lead to unprecedented growth in the Native stations that are using KBC’s Native program and distribution services.”

Expansion of Native radio is at a critical juncture, as Current reports in today’s print edition. Many of the Native groups that won construction permits to build new stations in 2007 are nearing the three-year deadline to get their stations on the air. Native Public Media and the National Congress of American Indians recently passed a resolution [PDF] asking the FCC’s Media Bureau to consider extending the deadlines.

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