Three years later, remembering Tom

Young Tom Busch at radio tower

I think this might be my favorite picture of Tom Busch. Tom was a legendary broadcaster, an amazing man, and a friend to countless people throughout the state of Alaska – including at KNOM Radio, the station that he so crucially helped to establish in 1971.

Today, November 1, is the third anniversary of Tom’s unexpected passing. It also would have been his 66th birthday.

It’s hard, on this day, not to think about the outpouring of generosity that Tom showed to our mission, the dedication of spirit that he made to the people who listened to KNOM and lived in Western Alaska.

But his legacy is even more than that, and I think that’s why I like this picture so much: because it shows Tom looking up, which is something that seemed to come so naturally to him; because, in every encounter I ever had with Tom Busch, his positive energy and hopeful spirit were palpable and even infectious. He was a joyful person to be around.

Truly, Tom was a man who looked upwards, whether in attitude or in faith – or, literally, when inspecting a radio tower, since Tom’s long career in broadcasting gave him a deep reserve of knowledge, with a curiosity to match, for the hardware needed to keep a radio station running.

And for four decades, that’s just what Tom did: he kept KNOM on the air.

Tom’s vision, dedication, and love still inform so much of what we do at KNOM. Three years after his passing, it’s no contradiction to say that his presence, and his absence, are both felt so strongly.

We miss you, Tom.

We invite you to share, in the comments, any memories you have of Tom. (You can also explore some of the stories that KNOM alumni and well-wishers shared with us upon Tom’s passing three years ago.)


  1. Paul Korchin on November 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    A profoundly moving tribute to our supportive mentor, faithful colleague, and beloved friend. ’73’ to you, NL7H…

  2. Amy Gorn on November 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I agree with Paul–this picture is a great illustration of who we miss so much. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jim Lawhon on November 5, 2013 at 9:33 am

    What a lovely testament to Tom. It’s a fantastic picture and one I had not seen before. I remember how much he liked to laugh despite all of his responsibilities of running the station. I can still picture him leading staff meetings in the Upstation with the grey Nome skies in the background. He was a visionary in what he saw as the possibilities for KNOM and his life in relation to it.

    Jim Lawhon, KNOM Volunteer from 1990-1992

  4. Florence Busch on November 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Thank you Dave for this tribute! Amy and Jim, thank you too! I never knew how much you can miss someone til I lost Tom. Thank you for your memories of him. I love to hear them all.

  5. Claire Richardson on November 6, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I’m sitting here at home, supposed to be working on a contract, but I went to Facebook and linked to David’s essay. Wow, brought tears to my eyes. I feel we were robbed of years of Tom’s life. Its only been since I was at KNOM that I realized the magnitude of Tom’s gifts, work and legacy. Darn it. Darn it. Darn it. He gave and gave and gave. I hope he knew just how much he was loved and admired. Florence, thanks for sharing him all those years.
    Claire Richardson
    KNOM 86-88

  6. George Cebula on November 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Dave, I couldn’t agree more. Tom and I go back before the station went on the air. In all those years I’ve never met another Tom!
    George Cebula