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Farewell to Our ‘16 Volunteers

Our 2015-2016 volunteers: Maddie Winchester, Emily Russell, Laura Kraegel, and Mitch Borden.
Our 2015-2016 volunteers: Maddie Winchester, Emily Russell, Laura Kraegel, and Mitch Borden.

Summertime at KNOM Radio Mission is a bittersweet confluence of happy greetings and difficult goodbyes. As you read these words, we’re working with our newest class of 2016-17 volunteers, who will serve as the lifeblood of our radio efforts over the coming 12 months — and whom you’ll soon meet in the Static. This month, however, we say a final “Godspeed” to the four outstanding people who’ve just departed Nome for points south: our 2015-16 volunteers Maddie, Emily, Laura, and Mitch (left to right, above), who consistently went above and beyond in serving the people of Western Alaska this year.

At KNOM, Maddie was a passionate steward of our long-form storytelling program Story49, which shines the spotlight on the people, places, and stories that make Alaska unique. During Maddie’s tenure, Story49 showcased the travels to the former USSR of a Nome sled dog musher; an incredible Alaska Native language immersion preschool; and, in a special, two-part project, the complicated history of a remote Alaska hot springs site. She also built a strong rapport with our listeners through her daily deejay shifts.

Mitch’s production accomplishments, meanwhile, included creating a completely new program: our in-house, original series of “audio postcards” called Dearest Alaska. The series presents life in rural Alaska through intimate, audio snapshots, making us feel like we’re present at rehearsals of a local drumming-and-dancing ensemble or preparing for a dive into the Bering Sea for the Polar Bear Swim. And Mitch was also a dedicated deejay, waking up early each weekday for a year to host our popular Morning Show.

Laura brought equally strong measures of talent and work ethic to her role as a news reporter, covering news beats ranging from subsistence hunting and regional fisheries to local education and school board issues. Among the many stories she covered during her time at KNOM were an innovative hydroponics-based farming outfit in Kotzebue; an impactful suicide-prevention retreat; and an Alaska Native documentary portrait photographer. And she also deejayed each week on Sundays, taking and playing song requests and connecting to St. Joseph Catholic Church for weekly Sunday Mass.

Emily proved herself a consummate news reporter, too. With dedication and aplomb, she covered municipal issues within the City of Nome; energy concerns in rural Alaska; and foreign affairs and marine traffic developments in the Arctic. Even when the news was tragic or difficult — such as the case, earlier this summer, of a hiker who had gone missing in Nome, and whose search efforts proved frustratingly inconclusive — Emily tackled her stories with poise, passion, and hard work. She consistently crafted stories that mattered to rural Alaskan audiences.

Ultimately, we know that all four of our fabulous ‘15-16 volunteers did work that mattered a great deal to our listeners and our region over the past year. And they couldn’t have done so without your support. For their efforts, and for yours, we are so very grateful. Thank you. (And to hear the fruits of their hard work, click through the links throughout the article above.)

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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.