Tristan began his career in public radio in 1988 as a reggae show host and programming assistant at KNMS-FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In the decade that followed, he worked as a public television producer and as an assignment editor for the Albuquerque NBC affiliate. Tristan graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1992 with a degree in political science. He has won numerous awards for reporting and anchoring from both the Arizona and the New Mexico Associated Press. He hosts KNAU's weekly program Earth Notes.