Antonia Gonzales: Modern Day Storytelling

Anchor-Producer Antonia Gonzales reads the suggested news stories from a news reporters’ affiliate for the National Native News in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday. Sept. 28, 2011. (Photo by Jaymee Bird)

by Jaymee Bird

The voice who shares the stories and history segments every day for the international radio broadcast National Native News is an Albuquerque resident and UNM alumna.  Antonia Gonzales has been producing and anchoring the daily radio show for the past six years.

National Native News (NNN) explores social, economic and cultural issues that affect the native community, as well as non-native people.  Being the only radio program delivered from a native perspective, NNN offers its listeners a different side of the news.  Native Voice One (NV1) distributes the five-minute daily program to over 130 radio stations across the country and in Canada.

Interested in the ways the drum beats for many native voices throughout the Indian Country, Gonzales was unsure of a career path to pursue in college. She took basic courses in mass communication, which ultimately led into a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico.

“I really like it. I liked reporting for class assignments,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales’ admiration for broadcast was influenced by local investigative reporter Conroy Chino, who became her mentor. He introduced Gonzales to the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) her final year at UNM.

“I went to the (NAJA) conference where I was with other native journalists, and they basically throw you in the fire. You’re just a student and they are ok here are assignments,” Gonzales said.

After completing her degree, Gonzales sent tapes to various broadcast corporations in hopes of starting her career. She landed her first job in Roswell, N.M. at KBIM, a local radio station, as a field reporter.

Gonzales in front of the Khoanic Broadcast facility in Albuquerque, N.M. on Sept. 28, 2011. (Photo by Jamee Bird)

Investigating news, she eventually joined the Native America Calling radio program as an associate producer for Koahnic Broadcast Corp., an Alaskan based radio organization with a production facility in Albuquerque. Gonzales made an impact on the corporation, landing a position to host today’s modern day storytelling to native peoples for the NNN radio program.

“As indigenous people, we should be the ones telling our stories. It should be coming from our perspective,” Gonzales said. “My job is specific; to cover indigenous people. ’Everything I am doing has an angle dealing with Native People.”

Being a Native American journalist, Gonzales has interviewed tribal elders, tribal leaders and tribal people in the United States and other nations. The stories covered in NNN give a world view of cross-cultural indigenous perspectives that mainstream media don’t convey. Gonzales uncovers ways to provides the world with stories regarding of indigenous peoples’ issues by sharing the Native peoples perspective on the world around them.

“Indigenous peoples were here before anybody else,” Gonzales said. “They have unique status and unique ties to this country that are hard for people to understand. So their issues are unique because of their unique circumstances.”

National Native News appeals to all walks of life not just indigenous people. Its news coverage brings native people and non-natives together to understand the unique relationships between each other.

Gonzales stays active in other outlets of Native American journalism; she is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and recently finished a three-year term as a board member. Her advice to students trying to pursue a career in journalism is to keep pursuing, find internships and a get a mentor.

Native American journalism becomes the modern day storytelling for native voices by sharing the perspective of the native people. Gonzales ensures indigenous stories and concerns are heard through National Native News. The Albuquerque radio station affiliate is KUNM, which airs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. on FM 89.9, and is streamed online, helping listeners around the world  better understand the native people.

Katie Fosterling, Lillian Kelly and Richard Schaefer helped prepare this story for the web.


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