While the troubled economy takes its toll on community radio across the country, at least one radio program continues to thrive. Shelley Bluejay Pierce reports for Native American Times that Native American Radio Live (NARL) hosted by Albert Raymond Cata is going strong. NARL broadcasts out of Santa Fe Public Radio, KSFR, and has served its diverse community for 17 years.
Sixty-four year-old Cata, a master storyteller from Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo), New Mexico, started his radio career in 1986 after retiring from the U.S. Air Force.
“All I know about broadcasting I learned as I went,” he says. “I was interested in people and like the music and wanted to share with others about who the Native American person is within the fabric of general society.”
His advice to other radio programmers in this economy?
“You have to keep on top of your community needs. You need programs that address what interests the listeners and that include everything from music, politics, sports, school events, community fund drives and even gardening...The trouble I see for many community radio shows is that they don’t have a true ‘format’ and are not focused on the needs of their communities.”
Check out how Cata meets those needs on NARL’s website, which features interviews with prominent Native American politicians, artists and storytellers, including actor Adam Beach, known for his stirring performances in Smoke Signals, written by Sherman Alexie, and Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers.