Live from Seattle: a brand new Indigenous radio station
As the song fades from the speakers, DJ Harris Francis keeps one eye on his monitors and the other on the streaming console under his fingers. He brings the microphone closer to his face. “I hope you are having a good day, that you have some exciting plans for the coming weekend,” he said, switching on his experienced radio voice. “We have some Bear Fox coming up, ‘Pink Skies.’ We have Willie Dunn, “Crazy Horse.” We have William Prince, “Wasted.” We have a lot of great music coming up here on the Daybreak Star Radio Network. ”
On its screen, blue pins on a digital map of the United States indicate people are currently connecting from the Pacific Northwest and Oklahoma. “Right here, Native American, 24/7. Coming from Seattle,” he said, “Thanks for listening.”
In Francis’ case, “right here” is a small, soundproof room on the lower level of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Seattle’s Discovery Park. The long-standing Indigenous community center and home of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation is now home to a brand new – and rare – initiative: Dawn Radio Star, an international online radio station entirely dedicated to indigenous music, arts and culture.
The station launched last month and last week featured a rotating cast of DJs, including the hip-hop-focused group Jamie “DJ Tee” Thomas, which will broadcast from Lapwai, Idaho, on the Nez Perce Reservation, and David Hillaire, aka DJ Big Rez of Bellingham KZAX radio station, a member of the Lummi Nation. An Android and iOS app will be released in the coming weeks.
“Our ultimate goal is to be the # 1 Native American radio station in America,” says Francis, the station’s program director (who is not native), as he takes a break from the DJ while the NextCast system automatically plays the songs it has lined up.
Although Daybreak Star Radio’s mission is to “indigenize the airwaves” – a motto written in white cursive on a large red banner hung near the DJ table – the music is not actually broadcast over the airwaves in the radio sense. and television, but rather digitally. , via a browser or an application. It is much easier and cheaper than setting up an FM station, and has the potential for much wider reach, as it is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
Provided you have internet or 4G access, “Every reservation can get our station,” says Daybreak Star Radio station manager Sherry Steele, registered member of the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma. “Our goal is to reach indigenous peoples, especially in the Americas. Everyone from Chile to [Arctic]. We want indigenous peoples to be involved and we want their music, and we want people to hear it.