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KNOM Radio Mission, 2017: Twelve Snapshots

Community deejay Niviaaluk Brandt in KNOM studios.
Community deejay Niviaaluk Brandt in KNOM studios. Photo: Laura Collins, KNOM.


As 2017 begins, both KNOM listeners and Static readers meet Miss Alaska, Rosemary Berg, who hails from the village of Point Hope (population 700). Her inspiring story of persevering through sexual assault and depression is the subject of a Story49 episode. “Just know that you are not alone… and that you are loved,” she tells listeners.

Miss Alaska, Rosemary Berg.
Miss Alaska, Rosemary Berg. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Berg.)


“I want to… influence everyone I meet in a positive way. I am interested in sharing my culture and its… respect for everyone.” Those are the goals of community deejay Niviaaluk Brandt, featured in the February issue. Nivi’s popular weekly show Alianait Radio is a source of joy, cultural connection, and inspiration for listeners, especially during the cold, dark winter.

Community deejay Niviaaluk Brandt in KNOM studios.
Community deejay Niviaaluk Brandt in KNOM studios. Photo: Laura Collins, KNOM.


The Iditarod begins in Fairbanks because poor snow cover prevents the usual Anchorage start. Musher Mitch Seavey wins in Nome. Reporters Zachariah Hughes and Ben Matheson, both KNOM volunteer alumni, send trail dispatches to KNOM listeners. In Natchitoches, Louisiana, middle school students follow the sled dog race through KNOM stories.

Iditarod musher Mitch Seavey and his sled dogs, mushing on a snowy tundra landscape.
Iditarod 2017 champion Mitch Seavey and his team, 3 miles from his record-breaking win. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.
In a classroom, Louisiana schoolchildren look forward as a teacher gestures towards an overhead-projector image showing an online KNOM story about the Iditarod.
Schoolchildren in Louisiana learn about the Iditarod via KNOM stories.


Nome priest Father Tom Kuffel spends the Easter Triduum in the Arctic city of Kotzebue; it’s one of the four parishes to which he ministers. KNOM listeners hear the voice of Father Tom Lankenau during the live broadcast of Easter Sunday Mass from St. Joseph Catholic Church, a block from KNOM studios.

Father Tom Kuffel at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nome
Father Tom Kuffel at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nome, one block north of the radio station. Thousands tune in to KNOM to hear Father Tom celebrate Sunday Mass. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.


Father Kuffel is on a ministry trip again, this time to isolated Diomede, an island village and KNOM listening community nestled along a cliff face overlooking the International Date Line. Back in Nome, KNOM provides live coverage of the local, solemn Memorial Day parade, which culminates in remembrance ceremonies at Nome’s cemetery.

Veterans carry flags in Nome's Memorial Day parade.
The 2013 Nome Memorial Day parade processes down Front Street. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.


A new series of KNOM spots, created through a partnership with the Nome hospital, conveys the stories of Western Alaskans who’ve recovered from drug addiction, alcoholism, and other issues. The message that a better life is within reach means so much. One interviewee tells listeners: “I’ve been sober for 15 years. Let me tell you: it’s a different life to be sober.”

The Nome hospital at dusk, viewed from the front, with light streaming through its windows.
Nome’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.


In the village of Kiana, youth group OPT In is encouraging peers to be mindful about how their actions impact others. “Every action counts and creates a ripple effect; choose wisely,” states the theme of OPT In’s 2017 youth conference, featured in Story49. Back in Nome, Margaret DeMaioribus becomes general manager after Ric Schmidt’s retirement in June.

"Selfie" of Kiana middle school student Shaedyn Barr and radio producer Lauren Frost
Producer Lauren Frost (right) poses for a “selfie” with one of the members of OPT In Kiana, middle school student Shaedyn Barr. Photo: courtesy of Ms. Barr.


Nome student Jonathan Outwater’s visit to KNOM, sparked by a special interest in broadcasting, is front-page news in the Static. For several days, Jonathan “shadows” volunteer Karen Trop, who’s made working with local youth a priority of her service. “If his time spent shadowing me inspired him even a little bit… I will be the one who feels blessed,” she says.

Nome youth Jonathan Outwater sits behind a radio microphone in the studio with KNOM volunteer Karen Trop.
Nome student Jonathan Outwater “shadows” volunteer Karen Trop in KNOM’s Studio A. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM.


KNOM listeners delve into local Cold War history through a special Story49 series focused on Alaska and easternmost Russia. The “Ice Curtain” long separated families and friends sharing a common language and culture. In 2017, reunions continue to happen on both sides of the border with the former USSR; some are 40 or 50 years in the making.

Three smiling women stand together in KNOM’s lobby
Pictured, left to right: travel organizer Tandy Wallack, resident Etta Tall, and documentarian Lourdes Grobet. Etta grew up on the Alaska island of Little Diomede and has family ties to Russia’s Big Diomede island, just 2.4 miles away. Etta traveled with Tandy to a special family reunion years in the making.


“I don’t think of myself as a leader — I just think of myself as a sophomore,” says Jacob Brouillette. But the humble high school student in Elim, Alaska, is indeed a leader, as KNOM listeners discover in Caught Doing Something Good. The show highlights Jacob’s work speaking up for healthy lifestyles, efforts to prevent suicide, and volunteering as a peer counselor.

Jacob Brouillette stands in front of an “Eagles” sports banner inside his school
Jacob Brouillette at the Aniguiin School in Elim. Photo courtesy of Aaron Palmer.


65 miles north of Nome, a farm at Pilgrim Hot Springs is reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of its first harvest. Residents of Nome and environs have been enthusiastic for locally-grown spinach and onions, an episode of Dearest Alaska recounts to listeners. Vegetables like kale and arugula were relatively unknown to some locals before the Pilgrim crops hit shelves.

Farm manager smiles at an earthworm in her hand.
Pilgrim Produce manager Tasha Lee smiles at the discovery of an earthworm: a sign of enriched soil. Photo: Karen Trop, KNOM.
Red beets, partially covered in dirt, freshly harvested.
A fresh harvest of Pilgrim beets. Photo: Karen Trop, KNOM.


Just in time for winter, KNOM has begun broadcasting information on sea ice cover as part of hourly weather forecasts. With the departure of Fr. Tom Kuffel, a visiting priest ministers at St. Joseph Catholic Church. The station broadcasts Christmas Mass to thousands of listeners.

Two people, wearing heavy parkas, hold long poles with iron hooks at the end, standing on sea ice, with a large vessel in the background.
On the sea ice with traditional multi-tools, Arctic ice testing sticks. One end is for checking the safety of ice; the other is a rescue hook if someone falls through the ice. (Photo courtesy of Gay Sheffield.)
Christmas manger scene at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Nome
Like so many Catholic churches around the world, the parish two blocks away from KNOM studios – St. Joseph Catholic Church – features a manger scene and Christmas tree during this Advent season. But the Nome creche bears a touch of rural Alaska: the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph wear traditional parkas fit for the region’s harsh winters.

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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.