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“Laura Waterman Wittstock, Still the Superb Journalist: First Person Radio Signs Off the Air”

Laura Waterman Wittstock

BY ELAINE SALINAS, THE ALLEY, MARCH 2018 

Excerpt from a longer history of First Person Radio and the beginning of Migizi Communications. 

“The final segment of First Person Radio (FPR) aired on KFAI Radio in Minneapolis on February 14th, 2018, forty years after it originated as The Native American Program on KUOM-AM, the University of Minnesota’s radio station. First Person Radio can best be described as a labor of love coupled with a commitment to produce timely and accurate news and information about the American Indian community to counter the many misrepresentations and inaccuracies perpetuated about Native people in the major media. 

“When First Person Radio was forced to sunset in 1992 due to rising production and distribution costs and declining support for public radio across the country, its legacy continued. Laura Waterman Wittstock, founder of MIGIZI Communications, took advantage of the large reservoir of knowledge and experience gained through First Person Radio to place the tools of communications in the hands of the younger Indian youth. MIGIZI’s Achievement Through Communications, and Native Academy programs became the first community-based programs in the city to give access to state-of-the-art technology to American Indian youth, thus closing the digital divide for hundreds of youth who lacked access to computers in their homes and other community settings. Today, this legacy continues through MIGIZI’s youth-run social media enterprise that provides an opportunity for Indian young people to tell their stories and serve the community through training in video production, marketing, and enterprise management. 

“Laura Waterman Wittstock served as President of MIGIZI from 1986 to 2004 when she retired from the organization. Her life-long passion for Indian journalism motivated her to resurrect First Person Radio in 2010 as a one-hour Indian current events program on KFAI Radio. Over the course of the next eight years, she grew a loyal listening audience that included former and new listeners from throughout the metro area and across the country who are as hungry today as they were back in 1977 to hear news and stories from a uniquely indigenous perspective. 

Laura’s last two years of producing and hosting First Person Radio demonstrated her indomitable spirit and fortitude as she continued to meet the demands of the weekly program despite declining health and limited mobility, conditions that ultimately caused her to retire the program in February 2018. 

It is only fitting that the final segment of First Person Radio was a tribute to Laura and her legacy.” 

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