Party in the Park

Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:53 PM

With mud and debris flows from recent rainstorms and a summer economy feeling the impacts of cancellations and fewer visitors to our region, it is no wonder we feel like we are still dwelling in the shadow of the 416 and Burro fires.

Perhaps what we need most is a big summertime celebration. And that makes KSUT’s 15th annual Party in the Park a timely – and most welcome – reason to smile.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. today at Durango’s Buckley Park with a pair of powerhouse bands, The Big Takeover and Albuquerque’s favorite, Baracutanga, set to rock into what we hope is a fine evening.

A summer of bad news for too many in Southwest Colorado has been kinder to KSUT. The public radio station is closing in on its goal of raising $1 million for its ambitious capital campaign by October. Meeting that deadline will trigger a matching donation from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, allowing the station to begin renovation of a 5,000-square-foot building in Ignacio.

The 14- to 16-month project will turn it into the most modern broadcast, recording and performance studio in the region. The Eddie Box Jr. Media Center will allow the station to produce more local news programming, which will be much appreciated throughout the Four Corners and serve as a recording, archiving and training center for the Southern Utes, and, it is hoped, other tribes from around the region and the Americas.

By the end of the year, KSUT will expand its signal to serve Towaoc and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and will also be heard farther west on the Navajo Nation. Thanks to the donation of a pair of FM licenses, the station will also be able to improve its service across Montezuma County.

For KSUT Executive Director Tami Graham and her staff, the prospect of leaving the cramped studio space the station outgrew more than 15 years ago – and getting their hands on new state-of-the-art broadcast and recording equipment – is reason enough to have a blowout party. But that may be a bit premature.

“Last June, we took a deep breath and said, ‘We have to do this,’” said Graham, speaking of the capital campaign. “Now, it feels great to be coming round to home, but we’re not quite there, folks.”

As of this week, about $820,000 has been raised toward the $1 million goal, and KSUT plans on accepting capital campaign pledges (payable by the end of December 2021) through the end of this year.

The station’s vision for the coming decades, in all phases, is well thought out and attainable. Take the drive to Durango this evening, enjoy some summer fun and show your support for Four Corners public radio.