Kinetochores assemble on centromeres (CENs) via histone H3 variant CENP-A and low levels of CEN transcripts. RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) activity is restrained by the CEN histone code, while CEN RNA concentrations are reduced by the nuclear exosome. Using S. cerevisiae, we add kinase Rio1 to this scheme as it downregulates RNAPII, and promotes CEN RNA turnover via exoribonuclease Rat1. Transcription factor Cbf1 and the assembled kinetochore further restrain CEN transcription. CEN transcripts exist as long (up to 11,000nt) and short RNAs (119±40nt), which may underlie CEN identity and kinetochore recruitment. While also curtailed by Rio1, Rat1, and the exosome, periCEN RNAs (<200nt) accumulate at levels that are one order of magnitude higher than the CEN transcripts. Depleting Rio1 causes CEN and periCEN RNA buildup, kinetochore malformation, and chromosome loss. Depleting human orthologue RioK1 leads to CEN RNA accumulation and micronuclei formation, suggesting that Rio1/RioK1 activity at centromeres is conserved.