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KCIE Radio Youth Program Grows Its Own Management

DULCE, NM – In the 1980s, as Nations in Indian Country began to find footing in the media space, the time also gave rise to a growing number of radio stations including Jicarilla Apache Nation’s KCIE Radio.

Today, KCIE operates strongly with a team of individuals, each having their own story of how they found their way to public radio. This includes the experience of new General Manager Mariah Elote, whose time with the station began as a student employee. KCIE Radio, broadcasting over the miles of mountains and forest, offers summer youth employment through the Tribe. Elote spent her summers during high school and college working at the station.

“To my surprise, it led me to a career in public radio,” reflects Elote over her start with KCIE. “As a youth employee you were allowed to pick a place of employment, which for me was easy at the time since music was everything to me. That’s what mainly drove me to choose KCIE. In the early 2000s, music was not easily accessible as it is now through apps like Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify. One of my first memories of KCIE is walking into the music room which housed all the CDs. It was exciting having access to so much music. I became a DJ at 16-years-old, and KCIE became my favorite place.”

Her years of experience working with KCIE has taught Elote a few lessons. She learned that public radio is more than playing favorite or classic tunes. It is about being a voice in her community and providing radio programming that is local and relevant to the citizens of her Nation.

“We are the first to get out emergency information to the community and serve as a helping hand when it comes to teaching our language by playing Abbachi for the day, which is a short program that teaches a phrase in our Jicarilla Apache language. We aren’t just a radio station but a vital outlet of communication to the Jicarilla Apache, community of Dulce and surrounding areas,” explains Elote.

Prior to becoming the General Manager, Elote was a Music Director and Program Director for KCIE. In regards to learning on the job, Elote gives credit to those have come before her like former General Manager Romaine Wood, who now serves on the Tribal Council for the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

“Without his guidance and continued support, I never would have thought I could be capable of serving as general manager of the radio station,” shares Elote. “Radio has always been a big part of my life growing up. It has become a passion. Though the job can become stressful, I honestly couldn't picture myself doing anything else. I never believed as a 16-year-old starting out at KCIE that I would be the general manager one day.”

The summer youth employment program continues for the Tribe and so does KCIE’s active participation. Currently, the station has six youth employees and two college student employees, all the students have worked with KCIE over multiple summers. Getting first-hand experience as hosts of their own shows and voicing public service announcements, the students also host interviews for news programming and special events such as the station’s annual free outdoor concert. In addition, they are learning about the administrative side of operations including the importance of logs and the critical role each department plays within the radio station such as finance, production and engineering.

In her management of KCIE, one of Elote’s primary goals is to create an experience similar to her own. “It is my hope is that one day our youth and college employees will have a story like mine and will be able to pin point a time while working at KCIE when they fell in love and grew a passion with radio just as I have.”

To learn more about KCIE, visit

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