ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.----Hopi radio personality Burt "Blues Bear" Poley is about to have an impact on national Native American radio.
On July 1, Native Voice 1 will be taking over the Native American radio distribution service previously controlled by American Indian Radio On Satellite.
Native Voice 1, based in Albuquerque, N.M., will be distributing four major programs on 34 Native American radio stations and several non-native radio stations throughout America and Canada.
The four programs are "Native America Calling," which is a radio talk show; "National Native News;" "Earth Songs," which is comprised of Native American contemporary music; and "Undercurrents," which covers all musical genres.
Poley, who started his radio career at KUYI on the Hopi Reservation, will serve as the network manager of Native Voice 1. As network manager, Poley will be in charge of seeing that all agreements are signed with radio stations and making sure that they receiving the programming they want.
Poley will also work with National Public Radio and Public Radio International on programming.
"We will collaborate so our programming gets on all the networks and into as many states as possible," he said.
Poley is also creating a website that will also listeners to hear the programs either through podcasting or live stream.
Native Voice 1 is owned by Koahnic Broadcasting. Before this promotion, Poley was serving as national station audience relations manager for Koahnic
Broadcasting. Poley started his radio career at KUYI with a blues show where his name tag was Blues Bear. He worked his way up to co-station manager before taking a job with KNAU in Flagstaff. He worked two years at KNAU as a production engineer and on-air announcer.
"I never experienced radio or computers until working at KUYI. I've come a long way. It's hard to believe I'm in this position," he said.
Poley said he misses being on air at KUYI.
"I dream about being on the air at home. I miss my blues show. I want to come home and see the (Hopi) village dances, but it's hard to get away because my job is demanding," he said.
Poley said his success shows young radio students how quickly someone can succeed in five years.
"Radio is fun. It's long hours. My advice to radio students is to get hands-on-training, learn the board and get behind a microphone," he said. "The technology is fascinating, but it takes time to learn."
Born in Winslow, Poley was raised in Leupp and Bacavi. He graduated from Coconino High School in Flagstaff before working various jobs in Phoenix for 10 years.
He came home and was making kachina dolls when the light bulb went on telling him to get into radio.
Poley and friends spoke about the need to get a radio station going on the Hopi Reservation. They petitioned the Hopi Foundation to get it going and the foundation approved.
Susan Braine, who is now the chief executive officer of Koahnic Broadcasting, helped start KUYI. Poley said Braine physically dragged him to two training sessions before he decided to go on his own.
"The first time I wasn't going to go. Susan grabbed me by the arm and put me in the car," he said. "She knew I had radio in me. I'm thankful because I didn't know I could do it."
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)