August 02, 2008

Pine Ridge radio anniversary

KILI marks 25 years as 'lifeline of reservation'KILI-FM broadcasts across the airwaves of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but the radio station, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year, is a lifeline for the Lakota people who live there.

"Ninety percent of the homes that you walk into on the reservation, you'll hear KILI radio playing," said Melanie Janis, KILI's general manager. "It's almost like the lifeline of the reservation."

In a place where few people have Internet service in their homes or access to 24-7 cable television, the little radio station transmits across a big reservation from a remote bluff in the tiny village of Porcupine. Often, it is the only way residents on the 3,470 square-mile reservation get their information.

Ever since disc jockey Calvin Two Lance spoke his first bilingual broadcast in both English and Lakota on Feb. 25, 1983, KILI has been telling its listeners about taco sales and tribal council meetings, about lost pets and Lakota language classes, about weather forecasts and school closings. Mixed in among its eclectic music programming--from country/western to powwow drums--is the sort of community journalism that captures daily life on the reservation. People tune in to KILI to follow their favorite high school basketball teams or to catch a free ride to a funeral.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Lakota Radio = "Beacon of Hope."

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