Native radio host seeks support in 'troubling times'
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Saying he was taking things "one day at a time," the host of the nationally-broadcast radio show Native America Calling returned to the airwaves on Monday to talk about his recent drunk driving arrest and domestic violence charges.

Although he wouldn't go into too much detail, Harlan McKosato, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, said he was sorry for the suffering he has caused. "I apologize for letting you down, letting my family down and letting myself down," he told listeners of the program.

McKosato said he was undergoing counseling to address his alcoholism and for "domestic problems at home." He asked listeners for support in "these trying and troubling times."

"I never claimed to be perfect," he said. "I am human ... I pray, through goodwill and through the grace of God, that this whole experience will make me ... a better person, a better father, a better husband -- even a better radio host."

McKosato's remarks were his first since his arrest in the early morning hours of November 15. According to court records, he was charged with one count of aggravated driving while intoxicated in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His blood alcohol level was reported to be twice the state's legal limit of 0.08.

McKosato was booked into jail but was not released until November 18 due to two pending counts of battery against a household member that were filed on November 2. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges, posted bond and was ordered to undergo counseling and random drug testing before his next scheduled court date on January 29, 2004.

In light of the charges, McKosato was placed on administrative leave with pay the week of November 17. His absence was notable because the show was being broadcast from the annual National Congress of American Indians convention, which took place in Albuquerque that week.

At the time, a Native America Calling staff member indicated McKosato wasn't feeling well and was on sick leave. It wasn't until Friday of that week that word of McKosato's situation came to light, when Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, the Alaska-based non-profit organization that produces the show, posted a statement on its web site and sent out an e-mail about the charges.

"This is a difficult time for Harlan and his family and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation stands behind him in his efforts to seek help for dealing with his personal and legal issues," the statement read.

KBC spokesperson Cassandra Shumate said McKosato did not ask his employer to publicize his ordeal. "It was not at his request, but we decided to issue a press statement surrounding the events and he was in agreement with it," she told Indianz.Com.

National Native News, another program produced by KBC, also ran a brief story that same day. McKosato bristled at the publicity, a source close to the host said, but accepted it. However, he was not aware that KBC widely disseminated its statement via e-mail and the Internet until later that weekend, the source added.

The KBC statement was prominently posted on the Native America Calling web site but was removed sometime late Monday or early Tuesday of the following week. McKosato had originally been told the statement would only be read to members of the media who inquired about the charges, the source said. Except for KBC, no other press outlets have run stories about the incident.

On the show yesterday, callers offered words of encouragement and prayers. Kevin Peniska, the founder and publisher of Well Nations Magazine of South Dakota, said he stood behind McKosato.

"It takes a big person to say that in public," said Peniska, who added that he was a recovering batterer. "I know you are going to make it through ... Take care of yourself and everything will work out fine."

"It really did take a lot to say that on the air," said Eric Martin of the American Indian Radio on Satellite, the network which carries McKosato's show. "You know you always have support from me."

McKosato said the show would continue to highlight problems facing Indian Country, especially alcohol abuse and domestic violence. "We're probably going to be more committed to bringing you the issues that are important to make ourselves healthier, to make our tribes and our communities healthier," he said.

All of the charges McKosato faces are first offenses, according to records from the court in Albuquerque.

Relevant Links:
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