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A Response to Recent Allegations Made Against KNOM Regarding Jim Poole

Digital Studios dedication plaque
A plaque marking the dedication of the new studios (its inscription: “The KNOM Radio Mission recognizes Tom & Florence Busch for their service to the people of Western Alaska through their inspiring work at KNOM AM & FM. In appreciation for their unequivocal generosity to the mission, we dedicate these Tom & Florence Busch Digital Studios on October 1, 2016.”). Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM.

The name Father Jim Poole, S.J. has not appeared on the historical timeline on KNOM’s website since before 2011. 

Poole was the dominant force behind the creation of KNOM and led the effort to find the money and people that put the radio station on the air in 1971. In the following years, he became synonymous with KNOM to both donors and listeners. 

During Poole’s time in Western Alaska, he committed numerous acts of sexual abuse while serving in Nome and elsewhere, including abuse against children. Poole’s abuse was made public starting in 2004, and the pain experienced in these revelations compelled KNOM staff to seek removal of Poole’s name and likeness from written accounts of KNOM’s history. 

Subsequently, the timeline identified Tom Busch as the founder of KNOM.  Busch’s importance to KNOM is impossible to quantify or overstate, as it was his initiative that took Poole’s ideas and made them a reality. Busch served as chief engineer from 1970 to 1973, and then returned in 1975 to serve as general manager for the next 30 years. After relocating to Anchorage, Busch worked as KNOM’s Financial Officer and Development Director from 2005 until his death in 2010.

The identification of Tom Busch as founder was a respectful attempt to highlight his critical importance to the establishment of the station.  But at the very beginning of our story, it was Father Poole who had a vision of a radio mission that became KNOM.  Both men were critical to KNOM’s founding, each in his own ways. 

Many years have passed since this historical timeline has been reviewed, resulting in the current KNOM management team to begin work in January of this year (2019) to compile and draft a factual and complete station history. This history will deal with Father Poole with honesty and respect for all affected by his reprehensible and indefensible actions. This continues to be an ongoing process, due to more than 48 years of documents, stories, written histories, memories, and digital archives. KNOM management is approaching this with care and intention. A finalized, fact-checked KNOM history will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months on KNOM’s website.

KNOM always welcomes communication, especially during this process. If you have a question about KNOM’s history or timeline, please contact KNOM General Manager Margaret DeMaioribus directly by emailing generalmanager@knom.org

If you or someone you know is seeking support or needs to report abuse, such as from someone within the Catholic Church in Alaska, look for the relevant contact information on the right hand side of any page on the KNOM website.

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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.