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American Idol is coming to Western Alaska

KNOM is collaborating with American Idol, ABC network’s television show that features singers auditioning for three celebrity judges: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. Western Alaskans ages 15-28 will have the opportunity to virtually submit videos to Melissa Elfar, the Senior Producer for American Idol, and their production team.  

Due to ongoing internet outages, KNOM will be sending an employee to all the surrounding villages to assist with video production and submissions. Elfar and her team will analyze the video submissions and select winners to advance to the next phase. Selected individuals will be flown up to Nome for live auditions with the American Idol Production.  

This collaboration offers a distinctive chance for individuals in Western Alaska to pursue their artistic aspirations and have them reach a national audience. This marks the inaugural chance exclusively for Western Alaskans to audition for a national television show. Given the limited availability of arts programs in the region, this partnership has the potential to transform the perception and appreciation of the arts in a significant way. 

During the morning show on Thursday, KNOM announced on air their collaboration with American Idol with Melissa Elfar as a special guest. 

“It’s been so cool that we are now doing our auditions on Zoom. Because truly, it’s just never been easier. And I know there’s some difficulties. So that’s what we’re doing is we’re bringing the audition to you guys.”

Melissa Elfar says she wants those in rural Alaska to have an equal opportunity to apply for the shows.  

 “I think the songs and the performances and auditions that do really well are people who sing songs that they connect with. I think that’s, you know, a big part of kind of being your true authentic self is it’s just kind of are meaningful to you.”

After selected participants complete live online auditions in Nome, selected winners will have the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles and audition live in front of the judges. Elfar says this opportunity is one that can change lives and will connect aspiring artists with professional training.  

“Just the experience on the show that these kids have is just truly incredible. And it’s, it’s a priceless experience from working with top notch vocal coaches to Chris Cooley and the band, like a world class band, just the things you learn on the show and the people you get to meet and the friendships of the other contestants, you know, that that you make there, they become lifelong friends.”

The Alaska Native culture has deep roots in singing and the arts, making this opportunity a platform to share and promote cultural heritage and diversity. KNOM holds a significant importance towards sharing the culture of the region and providing equal opportunities to residents in rural communities.  

Elfar says all that is needed to audition is a 90 second audio clip or video of you singing your chosen song. Contestants are allowed to play an instrument, be accompanied by a musician, or have a backing track. KNOM has launched a dedicated website for submitting American Idol auditions.  

Photo at top: American Idol Senior Producer, Melissa Elfar, joins a Zoom call during the live announcement 8/3/2023.

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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.