We Asked: Western Alaskans Say They’re Still Radio-Active

Although the birthday date has passed, KNOM’s 50th year vision to “give back KNOM” by making local voices a deeper part of the mission continues. The station’s staff recently finished analyzing a the results of a survey that was mailed out to all households in the listening area.

Respondents would be entered to win a free radio and antenna booster – graciously gifted by someone who donated to the station’s anniversary campaign. Thanks to the 276 benefactors who contributed one or more radios, each family that returned a survey will receive a radio!

The survey data shows listening behaviors that are very different from those in the ‘Lower 48’ states. Across different demographic groups, more than 90% of respondents engage with KNOM through radio (not online), most listening at home for 8 or more hours per day while doing their daily tasks. Several say they have listened for all five decades the radio station’s existence. KNOM truly is a companion to listeners.

Some listeners said they would like more weather reports. Since KNOM already airs ten-minute long forecasts for weather, marine weather, and sea ice five times each day, with shortened casts hourly overnight, this was surprising.
On another encouraging note, the vast majority of listeners say they are happy with KNOM’s program mix.

The survey largely followed the demographic trends of the region. Folks in Nome want more modern and Western music and programs, while village listeners – more than 70% of respondents, have slightly different needs. For example, KNOM learned it ought to integrate Indigenous music in the rotation in a welcoming way for those unfamiliar with a specific song. By making sure to introduce the song, where it comes from, and how different communities dance to it, the station has an opportunity to keep a cultural treasure trove alive and in use for younger generations.

The survey results will guide the program staff and Board of Directors of KNOM as they discern the station’s sound in the coming years. For fifty years, the award-winning mix of music, news, local profiles, and spots has inspired and informed listeners. Our prayer is the mission’s service would deepen, both for and with Western Alaskans.