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Navajo Radio Loses George Werito

Navajo Radio Loses George Werito
February 01
08:50 2016
George Werito small pic

George Werito

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is mourning the passing of his close friend and Navajo radio star George Werito.

Werito died on January 24. He was 66.

“He was one of my closest friends and I consulted with him on critical issues,” Begaye said.

Werito was both a radio personality and station manager for 960 KNDN-AM based in Farmington, N.M. The station, which broadcasts entirely in the Navajo language, serves upwards of 100,000 listeners a week.

“Werito had the unique talent to communicate with adults and children alike in a way that earned their respect,” Begaye said.

“I will miss him greatly,” the president said. “In George Werito, the Navajo Nation has lost a leader and great radio personality who was unparalleled in his ability to communicate complex issues in a very articulate way in the Navajo language.”

Werito’s show aired on weekdays starting at 6 A.M. It combined news, talk and announcements. Werito’s show was the favorite of many Navajo elders.

“I know the elders will miss his broadcasts,” Begaye added. “He was influential because he spoke their language.”

Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts said he was saddened to learn of Werito’s death. Werito would be missed by all who knew him, Roberts said.

Vice President Jonathan Nez said Werito’s voice played a big part in the popularity of KNDN across the Navajo Nation but specifically the Eastern and Northern regions. He remembers Werito prominently broadcasting the Shiprock Marathon.

“The way I got to know him was during the Shiprock Marathon,” Nez said. “He announced the race along the entire 26.2 mile route.”

Navajo Speaker LoRenzo Bates was a regular listener. He’d tune in on the way from Upper Fruitland to Window Rock and listen until he lost reception.

Bates said Werito encouraged his early political career.

“The community will miss Werito,” agreed Eugene Joe, president of the Shiprock Historical Society.

Begaye and Nez extended their prayers and condolences to the Werito family.

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