Dakota Talk Radio to Tackle the Issues on FM Airwaves
Dakota Talk Radio KDKO 89.5 FM, has only been a radio station on the internet for the past four years, but in a matter of weeks, the Native radio station will be hitting the FM airwaves serving the communities surrounding Lake Andes, South Dakota. From the onset, KDKO will be tackling tough issues such as date rape, drug and alcohol prevention and violence against women addressed by native youth in the form of Public Service Announcements.
Charon Asetoyer, Comanche, is the executive director and CEO of the Native American Community Board, Inc. and the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, the organization that will be running the station. The in-your-face programming, she says, is just another way to share a valuable message that they already tackle on a daily basis. “If most people heard our public service announcements, they would be totally blown away because we've got young men and young women talking about how to prevent date rape. Or how to be aware if you have been date raped or what to look for or what signs to look for.”
“We are a community-based nonprofit organization that has been around for 25 years," she says. "We provide direct service, and we do a lot of policy work on various issues like the preservation of Dakota culture and language, reproductive and environmental justice and violence against women. It is these issues that will go into our programming. Most radio stations are just radio stations, but we even have a food pantry.”
“We also have alcohol and drug prevention programming," she continued. "We have youth come in, and we have them create public service announcements. It is a great platform for youth to get experience that they would not be able to get anywhere else. They write and produce their own PSA’s, and these are high school youth and college youth. It broadens their perspective of choices of what they might want to do when they are done with their education.”
Asetoyer said that there will also be Dakota Language and Cultural programming as well as music from Native musicians and other genres to include and jazz, soul, 70s music and artists like Janis Joplin, Marvin Gaye and rhythm and blues.
Presently, Asetoyer says with a laugh, the FM station is just an mp3 player with the PSA’s, station identification and a diverse variety of music. “We are playing our radio station on a transmitter right now—so we are on the air. In a few weeks we will be on the air live.”
Asetoyer says the only thing standing in the way of a fully operational radio station is a little bit of time and an approximate $34,000 left to raise after successfully landing the public radio permit from the FCC and grant money from the Department of commerce.
“We have been busy raising the necessary resources to get up and on the air," she says. "Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and that was extremely challenging. We were able to get a federal grant. But we had to come up with a 25 percent match. We had to raise the almost $75,000 on our own. We have been doing some very resourceful fundraising through individual donors and small grants, we are over halfway there, and we are looking for people to send us their checks. It will happen because people really support educational, community supported radio."
Chaske Rockboy, aka DJ Big Daddy Rock, Yankton Sioux, a powwow singer with the Yankton Sioux Singers and a teacher of songs and historical concepts to the native youth in his community, is a popular DJ at the station.
According to Rockboy, the process of getting the show from the internet to an actual station was tough for the administration. “I've seen them go through crying, laughing. It gets pretty emotional, especially what to do with the funding part of this.”
However he is proud to be a part of a station that is making a real effort to serve the community. “It feels pretty good to be part of something positive—as native people we should be doing that all the time, that's how I was raised by my father and my mom—it feels good, but it's basically a norm for my family and this organization to help people. It is a daily thing around here.”