KELK, "Basque Program", Elko, Nevada

The Basque Radio Show from Elko, Nevada, was created in 1968 at KELK Radio, under the auspices of Jesus (Jess) Lopetegui and Chris Gardener, who was the owner of the station. Chris proposed to Lopetegui that he create a one-hour radio program on Sundays for the benefit of the many Basque sheepherders who were in the hills during those years. The program was active from 1968 to 1980 and included music, social news from Elko (births, birthdays, and weddings), messages for the sheepherders, weather broadcasts, and news from Spain.

Jess Lopetegui was the host for all twelve years of the program. As was the case with the other two Basque radio programs, (Boise and Buffalo), all the shows were spoken fully in Basque.

The show’s format included Basque music, both live and recorded. Jess Lopetegui recalls that some of the most popular records were those of Los Xey with Pepe Yanci as accordionist. Sometimes, Bernardo Yanci, Pepe’s cousin and himself an accomplished accordion player from Elko would play live on the air. The Jimmy Jausoro Band from Boise played on the program as well as Elko’s Joe Mendive and Maite Moiola from time to time.

The Elko KELK Basque Radio Show, was the only Basque radio program in the west that featured a Mass, recorded in the Elko Catholic Church, celebrated by Father Jose Mallea, the Basque priest serving there at the time. The program also had commercials in Basque, which was a way to finance the program. According to Jess Lopetegui, each commercial cost $4.00 in those days and were mostly from Elko’s Basque businesses and hotels. However, Lopetegui also translated some commercials from English to Basque. One was for a political candidate running for mayor of Elko.

The Elko radio program was created to help and support the Basque sheepherders around Elko and like its sister programs in Boise and Buffalo, it eventually ceased to air because of the lack of Basque sheepherders in the surrounding hills.

Source: Interview to Jesus "Jess" Lopetegui by Eneko Tuduri the 8/15/2016.