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Pine Ridge radio station starts fundraising for new facility

A new facility rendering for KILI Radio in Porcupine.
KILI Radio
A new facility rendering for KILI Radio in Porcupine.

An Indigenous-run public radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation is kicking off a capital campaign for a new facility.

KILI Radio has been on the air for nearly four decades.

The station is located on Porcupine Butte in Porcupine, South Dakota.

KILI was the first American Indian-owned radio station in the United States.

The original building was built by volunteers. It was constructed as a temporary facility.

KILI Radio board president Bill Means
Lee Strubinger
KILI Radio Board President Bill Means.

Bill Means is the board president for KILI Radio.

“Our radio station outgrew its usefulness in the sense of modern-day equipment, in the sense of space for offices,” Means said. “We needed a new home. So this is the beginning of that adventure.”

KILI Radio is looking to build a $2.5 million facility.

The station airs tribal council meetings, Lakota Nation Invitational basketball games and a wide range of music — from traditional powwow music to country, rock ‘n roll and hip hop.

KILI Radio is mostly powered by renewable energy — both wind and solar.

Tom Casey is the station’s general manager. He says the goal for the station is to generate 100 percent of its power from renewable energy.

“Obviously, as a radio station — 100,000 watts — we use quite a bit of electricity,” Casey said. “Our commitment was not only to be working to bring in as much renewable energy as possible, but to also show the community and show the region that it’s possible. It’s doable. Find the resources and let’s commit to using as much renewable energy as possible.”

Station officials have a goal of raising the money in two years.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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