Western Alaska, like so many corners of the globe, is a place often best understood in small snapshots, one at a time. That’s the idea behind a new series on KNOM that brings our listeners and our web viewers “audio postcards” from different places and different moments of daily life in our region. This monthly show, spearheaded by volunteer producer Mitch Borden, is called Dearest Alaska. We’d like to highlight for you two recent episodes.
In November’s show, we hear the sounds of a rehearsal of the Nome/St. Lawrence Island Dancers (pictured at top and above), local practitioners of traditional, Alaska Native drumming and dancing, a key part of the culture of our region. We hear the ensemble as they’re practicing their songs and listen to the words of one of its members, dancer Phyllis Walluk. She describes both the fun, light, welcoming tone of their rehearsals and what the music means to her on a deeper level. “It makes me happy that I know part of my culture,” she says. “I’m carrying on my culture.”
The December Dearest Alaska, meanwhile, takes the listener to St. Lawrence Island itself, a small island located in the Bering Strait, off the coast of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. In the village of Savoonga (suh-VOON-guh), well within KNOM country, we hear Santa and Mrs. Claus make an early Christmas visit as part of Operation Santa Claus, a longstanding program that brings gifts, song, goodwill, and cheer to the isolated communities of our region. Per usual, Mr. and Mrs. Claus traveled not by reindeer and sleigh but, rather, by a C-130 cargo airplane — thanks to a little help from the National Guard.
To hear these joyful snapshots of Western Alaska, yourself, simply click through the links above — and as always, thank you for making Dearest Alaska, and everything that we do, possible.