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Our ’15 Producers Look Back

The 2014-2015 KNOM volunteer class
The 2014-2015 KNOM volunteer class: Jenn Ruckel, Caitlin Whyte, Courtney Cousins, Francesca Fenzi, and Kristin Leffler. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

This month, we’re bidding a final goodbye to our volunteer class of 2015: Jenn Ruckel, Caitlin Whyte, Courtney Cousins, Francesca Fenzi, and Kristin Leffler, pictured above (inside KNOM’s under-construction studio annex).

As Static readers may know, summer brings the changing of the guard — the turnover of service years — for the full-time volunteer program that forms the core of KNOM’s workforce. After a profile on our departing news volunteers last month, we’re saying goodbye to our production volunteers: Caitlin, Courtney, and Kristin.

Kristin, Courtney, and Caitlin in Studio A
2014-2015 KNOM volunteer producers Kristin Leffler, Courtney Cousins, and Caitlin Whyte in Studio A. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

For Courtney, among her successes of the past year has been revitalizing a regionally-inspired, Alaska Native storytelling program called Let’s Tell Legends and Stories (which readers can explore online). She’s also deejayed in the afternoon and written and produced some of KNOM’s signature radio spots (on both inspirational and educational topics). In these and other areas, she says she’s gratified by the level of local engagement and community-wide cooperation she’s seen within KNOM. To be a community resource that both serves and springs from the community, she reflects, “is a great service to offer,” especially when “voices from the community… take the microphone themselves.”

For Caitlin, it’s been an honor to have grown relationships with Western Alaska listeners, who’ve trusted and valued her contributions by tuning in to KNOM throughout her service year. That type of relationship is “something you don’t really get at any other radio station in the country,” she says; “I’m very thankful.” Highlights of Caitlin’s year have included collaborating on educational radio spots on Iñupiaq, one of the Alaska Native languages of the region we serve, with Marjorie Tahbone (a member of the Nome community who also hosts her own popular music show on KNOM). And Caitlin’s also hosted our Morning Show, helping thousands of rural Alaskans start their day — engaged, entertained, and informed — every weekday for the past year.

Kristin, too, leaves rural Alaska with a deep appreciation for the ways the region has welcomed and taught her. A year ago, she says, “I knew that living and working here would change me, but I could never have imagined the ways in which it would… There’s a certain magic to living in Nome, and I’m thankful to have been able to work and live here.” Some of that “magic” has certainly shined through in Kristin’s work with the storytelling series she’s helmed, Story49, which she says was a “dream come true” to produce and develop during her KNOM tenure. It’s been an “honor” to “observe people’s passion and love for this region” through her production work, she says, and Kristin’s pursuing that connection to our region right through her final weeks at KNOM: next month, look for details on Kristin’s recent travels to the community of Gambell, Alaska.

In the end, Kristin mirrors the sentiments of all of our ‘15 volunteers when she says, “I’m thankful for the trust that people gave me.”

Of course, we’re thankful, too: both for our volunteers’ work and for your support, making possible their incredible, tireless efforts throughout the 2014-2015 service year. We hope you’ll join us in wishing all of our departing volunteers a heartfelt farewell, and again, thank you.

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Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.