Public Radio Station Under Construction at Fort Belknap CollegeNov 15th, 1994 | By tcj | Category: 6-3: Philanthropy, Tribal College News
The isolated Ft. Belknap Reservation of northern Montana will soon be served by a public radio station now under construction at Fort Belknap College.
Radio station KGBA is scheduled to go on the air this coming September, giving the rural community access, for the first time, to news from National Public Radio and a broad range of locally produced information and cultural programs.
The station will help unite the reservation, which is home to two tribal groups, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre, living among three distinct communities, the towns of Agency, Hays, and Lodgepole. “There is a breakdown in communication,” between these regions, according to college Vice President Andrea Brockie.
The station will also give the reservation community a way to educate the non-Indian population surrounding the reservation. “We can enlighten them,” Brockie says.
“We’re not just a bunch of drunks, going out getting DWI. We can portray a more positive image.”
The station plans to broadcast news and other programming available through National Public Radio and other sources. But college officials are also eager to feature local talent and culture. Singing groups, language programs and story-telling may all be offered, allowing the college to support and strengthen the culture of local tribes.
In addition, reports on tribal council meetings and health concerns, such as diabetes and HIV, are scheduled.
Brockie says no other station offers this information to the reservation. “There is no other source, not even for general information, like which roads are closed or if the BIA is closed,” she says.
The station will have a full-time staff of at least five and no less than fourteen part-time and volunteer workers. The college is now offering courses in communications and the media, allowing students to train as DJ’s. Internships will be available for students.
Groundbreaking was held in late October. It is scheduled to go on the air September 1 at a frequency of 88.1. But according to Brockie the project was almost abandoned this past summer.
College staff sent out 400 proposals to private foundations in search of money for staff and construction. When it appeared that all requests would fail, they decided to give up. But just before the board was to vote, a $21,000 grant was awarded for a project director from the Campaign for Human Development. Then the Lannan Foundation showed interest in the project, eventually awarding $211,000 for equipment and building costs.
Finally, $480,000 came from the Public Telecommunication Facilities Program in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Brockie says Fort Belknap College is a natural home for a radio station. “We are the only ones with the resources and contacts.”