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A Welcome Day in Kotzebue

Kotzebue, Alaska
Kotzebue, Alaska. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM

The region that your support allows KNOM to serve is truly massive: about 100,000 square miles is the reach of our AM frequency (780 AM). The shared culture, lifestyle, and heritage of rural Alaska, however, extends well beyond even our AM coverage, into a still-larger region of our immense state. This means that part of our mission is to reach out, in various ways, to communities that are beyond the limits of our AM signal. One such place is the hub city of Kotzebue (COT-suh-byoo), Alaska, pictured at top.

A few months ago, outreach coordinator Margaret DeMaioribus accompanied Nome parish priest Father Vince Burns during a day trip to Kotzebue. The two visited for multiple reasons.

Fr. Vince Burns at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Kotzebue, Alaska
Fr. Vince Burns at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Kotzebue, Alaska. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM.

They connected with Kotzebue’s Catholic community, each in their own way: Father Vince, as pictured, was staying at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where he celebrated Mass and provided communion as part of his ministerial duties, and Margaret was considering the church as a potential retreat site for KNOM volunteers. (The church campus was unmistakably rural Alaskan; see the traditional artwork hung on the rectory walls, pictured.)

Alaska Native Artwork, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Kotzebue, Alaska
Alaska Native artwork hanging on the wall in the rectory of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Kotzebue, Alaska. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM.

Margaret also used her time in Kotzebue not only to explore the Arctic city (which is like a northerly cousin to Nome in many respects) but also to visit our broadcasting counterpart, KOTZ Radio. Kotzebue’s hometown radio has welcomed KNOM stories and live feeds on multiple occasions over the years, particularly during winter sporting events in our region that might interest Kotzebue listeners, such as the annual Nome-Golovin Snowmachine (Snowmobile) Race. In her visit this spring, KOTZ was equally welcoming of Margaret, who’s pictured with KOTZ program director Johnson Greene.

Margaret with KOTZ Program Director Johnson Greene
Margaret with KOTZ Program Director Johnson Greene.

Even though Kotzebue is beyond even the long reach of KNOM’s AM signal, we know that visits like these are important, both in forging connections with our fellow Alaska broadcasting partners and in emphasizing the shared and cherished culture of the far-flung communities of our state. The trip was also one of the final times Western Alaska’s Catholic community was able to enjoy the presence of Father Vince Burns, who, in late May, returned home to Philadelphia to begin a well-deserved sabbatical.

We’re grateful for the service and goodwill of both Father Burns and Margaret, and we’re continually proud and excited to serve a region with a geographic size almost as big as its spirit.

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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.