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Yukon's Indigenous broadcaster revamping its look and sound

On National Indigenous People's Day, CHON-FM unveiled its new logo. It's part of a larger effort by the Indigenous broadcaster to revamp its programming.

CHON-FM unveils new logo and theme song, looks to increase local programming

Judy Gingell, right, holds a drum with the newly unveiled logo for CHON-FM alongside general manager Morris Prokop, left. (Dave White/CBC )

Big changes are coming to Yukon's Indigenous-dedicated broadcaster.

CHON-FM, which has been an important part of the Yukon Indigenous community for more than three decades, is revamping its look and sound, from a new logo and theme song to more local Indigenous programming.

The new logo, which was unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day on Friday, features a wolf and crow — representing two major clans in Yukon — in an outline of the territory on a drum. It was designed by Kaska First Nations artist Bobby Quash and selected as part of a logo contest.

"I think it's really symbolic of moving forward and kind of getting out of the past and moving on to the future," said Morris Prokop, the new general manager of CHON-FM.

Prokop said the station has also added "Indigenous radio" to its name so "no matter where in the world you are, you realize that this is a Yukon Indigenous radio station."

"CHON has this connection to all First Nations communities, all communities across the Yukon, and that's an incredible responsibility," said Yukon musician Matthew Lien, who produced the new theme song.

"It's great to see … this revitalized passion for connecting with all the communities and making sure they feel that CHON is a voice for them."

'Empowering and inspiring'

The new theme song or "sound logo" was inspired by an archival recording of The Green Song by Southern Tutchone elder Polley Fraser.

"We were looking for something ideally that would have traditional song roots," Lien explained.

There are 32 different versions of the sound logo, he added, reflecting the different communities and traditional territories where CHON-FM airs.

"Producing those and listening to all these places and territories, it feels so empowering and inspiring."

Prokop said they are always looking to increase Indigenous programming at CHON-FM. Some recent programs include Indigenous Connections hosted by Elaine Shorty, Lindsay Amato's popular Saturday Night Request Show and the weekend Indigenous music show Listen to My Music hosted by Clint Carpentier.

"We're really moving forward," said Prokop.

Lien said the station is also looking to do more interview and magazine-style programming, possibly including a series on how climate change is affecting Yukon First Nations.

Bringing Indigenous stories, songs to forefront

Judy Gingell, chair of the board at Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, which owns CHON-FM, says the changes are part of a new mission and vision for the organization.

"What it really boils down to is revitalizing the CHON-FM."

Gingell, who is also Yukon's first Indigenous commissioner, was one of the founding directors of Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, in the 1980s. She said they wanted to start an Indigenous radio station to better reflect Indigenous culture and stories.

"There [were] not good things said about First Nations people in the Yukon," she said. "What we wanted to have a radio station for is mainly to bring our languages, our stories, our songs, our drumming, our music to the forefront."

Written by Emily Blake, based on an interview by Dave White