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KNOM Partners With America Idol To Find Talent In Western Alaska

The hit TV show, American Idol was recruiting talent from part of rural Alaska this August in a unique way.

Partnering with American Idol, KNOM sent staff to remote villages by boat, small plane and sometimes both in one trip to film audition tapes for Alaskans who are struggling with unstable internet. Everywhere in Alaska, singing audition video calls happened on August 14th, but in Western Alaska a damaged fiber optic cable made video calls impossible, so KNOM staff came to the rescue!

In an interview on a recent KNOM show, American Idol Producer, Melissa Elfar told listeners, “It’s a way to hear from people who might otherwise not be able to audition. This has got to be, I think, the first time we’ve done something like that, which is really exciting and really, really cool.”

KNOM sent Teresa Trigg, Lisa Haugen, Sophie Tocktoo, and Tate Coler to the villages of Wales, Savoonga, Brevig Mission, Shishmaref, Golovin, St. Michael, Unalakleet, and White Mountain. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear and record the many beautiful voices of the youth in Western Alaska.

As luck would have it, Teresa Trigg arrived in Savoogna during their annual Reindeer Festival. Not only was Teresa able to secure 3 auditions there, but she also got to sample her new favorite snack, reindeer fat bars made of moose fat and reindeer meat. They were quite tasty, and she is now working on making her own version of the reindeer fat bar for the rest of the KNOM staff to sample.

Teresa was grateful for the opportunity to work with the young auditioners. “Super glad we made the connection with the youth, and it was so much fun! There was a lot of coaching before they auditioned because of shyness and nervousness.”

Teresa chuckled and added, “There were several older men who wanted to audition, but I could only listen to them sing their traditional native songs as the age cut off was 28.”

A huge thank you to our longtime underwriter Bering Air, who was a critical partner in bringing American Idol to Western Alaska.

Image at the top: American Idol contestants, Makiyan Ivanoff, Selma Casagranda, Martin Paul and Chad Callahan with KNOM staff. Photo courtesy of Martin Paul.

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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.