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Successful Rescue Highlights HAM Radio Network Outage

In December, a search party went out to search for an overdue snowmachiner, George ‘Butch’ Wassillie, who had been traveling between Nome and White Mountain.

Wassillie was found on the trail safe and sound. Still, White Mountain’s longtime Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO), Dan Harrelson, warned listeners that with the local HAM radio network down, travel is extra perilous.

The radio system is regularly used by radio enthusiasts, emergency responders, search and rescue teams, and snowmachiners traveling within roughly a 100-mile radius surrounding Nome.

Wesley Perkins, who heads up the local radio club, says he first noticed equipment issues at a repeater site a few months outside of Nome at the end of September.

“The FAA had a contractor in town that had cleaned up some sites, and after some type of miscommunication the equipment at the site was basically moved,” Perkins says.

The Seward Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, also known as SPARC, operates about a half dozen receivers across the Seward Peninsula, along with a hub receiver in downtown Nome. Perkins says most of them operate on solar power or will be switching to solar power soon.

Image at top: Shoveling snow off the Seward Peninsula Amateur Radio Club’s repeater at Skookum Pass. Photo by Wesley Perkins, used with permission.

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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.