January 29, 2013

Navajo on KNDN radio

Watching the Navajo language develop in a modern culture

By Jenny KaneKNDN radio, one of three Navajo language radio stations in the Southwest, serves listeners across the Navajo reservation, which spreads across three states: New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

KNDN has roughly 100,000 listeners on any given week. The listeners, for the most part, are among the more than 330,000 Navajo that live in and around the Navajo Nation.

Since KNDN became a full-time Navajo language station in 1978, fans have tuned in, some without a break, to hear the news of the reservation.

"They don't wait," Werito said, noting that he goes on air at 6 a.m. daily and immediately is flooded with calls. "A lot of our people listen. It's where they get their news."

He announces coal allotments, hay and corn distributions, ceremonial events, school board meetings and items lost and found.

While other media report on Navajo news, it is often in English, which some elders do not speak, and it appeals to a different audience. No Navajo-language television shows exist, nor newspapers, though some do use the language fleetingly in their coverage.
Below:  "George Werito of KNDN AM radio in Farmington, N.M." (Jon Austria/ The Daily Times)

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