Special to the Village News
It was 12 years ago, Feb. 3, 2011, that we received our FCC license, first as KOPA, and for the past four and a half years as KPRI. It is a FM radio station of the Kupa/Pala Rez Indians. Since first signing on, Rez Radio has never unintentionally gone off the air and has always stood ready to convey important official information in any emergency.
We developed news and other local programming that has earned more than 20 San Diego Press Club awards for Excellence in Journalism, as well as recognition from the Southern California News Association for Best Small Station Newscast. This includes stations in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Inland Empire, upper and lower deserts, and the Central Valley all the way to Fresno. Rez Radio news is the only locally-based broadcast news outlet anywhere between San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside.
Three of our shows, "Back in the Day With Doots and Dar," "FutureSound with Cuscino," and Joel Rafael's "Rockin' the Rez," have entered the world of syndication. They are also heard on other stations in multiple states. "Pala Life Past and Present" with Eric Ortega preserves the legacy of the tribe and the reservation by drawing from and creating new archived interviews with elders, and those whose experiences involve Pala and Kupa.
Other music-based shows offer unique playlists and insight, exclusively on Rez Radio, including "Mark's Groovy Trip," have been with us about 11 and a half years, and "Jack's Tracks" with Chris Carmichael, and "Rez Dub Reggae" with Pala's Elijah Duro, for almost that long. Also included are "The Vinyl Resting Place" with Jim McInnes, "Party on the Rez" with Tony Pepper, "Café Rez" with Ric Nicastro, and "Janine Harty's Record Party."
For several years, we've broadcast time checks in Pa'enexily to familiarize listeners with numbers in the native language. They're from the tribe's ancestral home of Kupa. It's part of a cultural revitalization that has led now to a college credit course. The language is being taught to Bonsall High School students three days a week at Pala Learning Center, and to grade schoolers at Vivian Banks Charter school in Pala.
Rez Radio's promotional appearances – some with our hippie bus Daisy Sunshine, ably driven to events by Pala's Robert Gonzalez – spread awareness of Pala at the Del Mar Fair, Fallbrook Christmas Parade, Valley Center Western Days, Christmas in the Valley at Bates Nut Farm, Pala Fire Department Open House, Earth Day at La Jolla, and a number of one-time events.
Rez Radio news has provided complete live coverage of events including Gregory Canyon landfill and state Congressional election public forums, Kupa Days, the Honoring Traditions Powwows and Gatherings. Just-for-fun remote broadcasts have included the Del Mar Fair and softball games at local reservations.
We maintain active social media with Facebook, Twitter and our own RezRadio.FM. We just completed a year-long project resulting in the free Rez Radio App. With additional volunteer help in these areas, we could even generate some income.
Coming this year – maybe this month – we're getting a small power increase. Very small. But anything helps. Plans are underway to open a new, more far-reaching FM station in the northeast corner of San Diego County to be owned and operated by a coalition of all local tribes within the next two years which will simulcast Rez Radio.
Everything to this point has happened courtesy of the Pala Band of Mission Indians and free of the constraints and demands of commercial radio's need to cater to advertisers. The full 60 minutes of every hour are devoted to informing and entertaining.
We don't even browbeat listeners for donations for a solid week every three months like other non-commercial stations. Thank the Pala Band of Mission Indians for that. And thanks to station volunteers, using this model we've created something far more than the tribe ever envisioned.