By J. Harry Jones
With that announcement last week, the first radio station owned and operated by an Indian tribe in Southern California went on the air.
Rez Radio, a commercial-free station that operates out of a small building behind the Pala Band of Mission Indians’ administrative center just off state Route 76, now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week and streams live over the Internet.
KOPA soon plans to offer a variety of programming. Some shows of general interest to Native Americans will be purchased from national Native American radio service groups, but most will be locally generated by volunteers. Topics could include native language courses, recordings of elders that have been taken for posterity and archived, home improvement shows, cooking shows, even political shows if someone wants to tackle controversial issues. Fox said anyone is welcome to approach the station with programming ideas. Being a reservation resident isn’t a requirement. The station also has the ability to broadcast from remote locations, such as from softball games.
Below: "Tribal Chairman Robert Smith (right) is interviewed Tuesday by John Fox at Pala's new radio station." (Charlie Neuman)