The Indians for Indians Hour (Show #110) (Audio)
Started in 1941 by host Don Whistler, who also went by the name Kesh-ke-kosh, the Indians for Indians Hour aired on University of Oklahoma station WNAD and served into the 1970s as a widely listened-to mode of inter-tribal exchange among the many Indigenous groups living in the station’s broadcast radius. As radio historian Josh Garrett-Davis argues, because Whistler saw his role on the show as a convener of guest performers and interviewees across tribal affiliations, the resulting program became a landmark development for both community radio and Indigenous-led media, decades before the more often cited points when American community radio and Indigenous-owned stations both flourished. The recording attached here is from episode 110, which is among the earliest of the many show recordings now preserved in the University of Oklahoma Libraries’ digital collections. In it, Whistler opens the show with his signature sign-on, then presents a characteristic mix of commentary, guest voices, musical performances, and calls to local gatherings. In a passage toward the end that Garrett-Davis points out, Whistler reflects playfully on how Indigenous music seemed ahead of the pop music sounds available in the increasingly homogenized and overwhelmingly white radio programming of 1940s America. Whistler’s work as a broadcaster and community leader was also an artistic practice that reimagined the variety show model in accord with Indigenous modes of sonic exchange and intervened in independent radio traditions to lasting effect. - Introduced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2021/2022, Andy Stuhl.