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2023 at KNOM: Year in review

January

Bethel musher Pete Kaiser wins his seventh Kuskokwim 300 title, outpacing a field of top mushers on the notoriously unpredictable Kuskokwim River trail. Pete Kaiser arrives at the Bethel finish line at 12:26 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, with his team of 11 dogs to meet a crowd of friends and family ready to celebrate at the finish line. Kaiser wins $25,000 for the victory and further chips away at the all-time win record.

man hugging sled dogs
Pete Kaiser wins his seventh Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race. Photo by Katie Basile, used with permission (2023).

February

Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad win the 2023 Iron Dog Snowmachine Race, securing their second victory of this event. This race is the world’s longest, toughest snowmobile race and covers 2500 miles as it traverses the Alaskan backcountry. Their recorded course time is 52 hours, 58 minutes and 32 seconds. Nome serves as the halfway point in the race.

The top three teams in the Iron Dog 2023 snowmachine race pose with their trophies on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Iron Dog, used with permission (2023).

March

Ryan Redington triumphs in the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, clocking in his first win after 16 attempts. Raised in the mushing tradition, Redington, fulfills a lifelong dream, thanking supporters and family for their unwavering encouragement. Ryan is the grandson of Joe Redington, Sr, who is known as the Father of the Iditarod. Ryan becomes the first Redington to win the race that his grandfather founded.

April

Denali Walrath, a fifth-grader, wins the Cub Division with her “Animal Alert” app, earning $500 cash and $2,000 for her college savings. Inspired while berry picking, her app notifies users about dangerous animals in specific areas, born from concerns after attacks near Nome Elementary. With help from university students, she plans to patent, code, and launch the app. Second-grader Bradley Rowe earns an honorable mention for his snow cone machine, aiming to make snow days fun statewide. 

Denali Walrath and Bradley Rowe were winners at the 2023 Alaska Innovation Competition in Fairbanks.
Denali Walrath and Bradley Rowe were winners at the 2023 Alaska Innovation Competition in Fairbanks. Photo courtesy Doug Walrath

May

Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone, an artist, educator, and advocate from Nome, receives the 2023 Governor’s Arts and Humanities Award. With a rich background in Inupiaq culture, she champions cultural education, aiming to counteract negative stereotypes and highlight positive Indigenous role models. Kunaq directs the Katirvik Cultural Center, promoting traditions and languages of local indigenous communities. She has spearheaded the first Inupiaq immersion program in Nome and serves on multiple boards.

A woman, Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone, smiles, wearing a traditional Unupiaq parka. She stands in front of a stretched skin.

June

Nome’s Oliver and Wilson Hoogendorn, known as the “AK Boys” on USA Network’s “Race to Survive: Alaska”, clinched the championship, celebratesd at a hometown watch party in front of over 100 locals. Their grueling 50-day survival journey earns them a $500,000 prize. The brothers highlight enduring hunger as the toughest part. The series showcases eight teams navigating 100 miles of Alaska’s wilderness, with the Hoogendorns emerging as the inaugural victors. They credit each other for the win, relying on their wilderness skills and teamwork.

The first season finale of Race to Survive: Alaska was held Monday, June 5 at the Katirvik Cultural Center.
The first season finale of Race to Survive: Alaska was held Monday, June 5 at the Katirvik Cultural Center. Photo by Ava White/KNOM

July

Internet and cellular services in Northern and Western Alaska disappear as the fiber optic cable that provides Nome with internet service is severed until late October. The outage causes serious logistical problems for all businesses and organizations in Nome. Without internet, the radio signal becomes more important to many. For several months, KNOMers are challenged by the inability to perform basic tasks like updating the radio rotation, check e-mails, or share news stories online.

Map showing the location of the fiber optic cable providing internet access to the region.

August

The mother-daughter duo of Angela and Ermelina Gonzalez, craft ‘Fish Camp Barbie,’ showcasing Athabascan tradition. The viral post features Barbie dressed in vibrant cultural attire, skillfully preparing a fish with an ulu. They have crafted many other scenes reflecting Alaska Native life. Angela’s childhood memories at a fish camp inspired these scenes, aiming to represent and inspire younger generations. Their social media posts received overwhelming positivity, sparking inspiration for others to create their own Barbie projects.

September

American Idol scouts talent in Alaska, visiting Nome for live auditions after virtual statewide tryouts. Partnering with KNOM Radio Mission, contestants from remote villages submit auditions. Four hopefuls from western Alaska showcase their talents, discussing their musical journeys and aspirations on KNOM’s show. The diverse performers, include a Yup’ik drummer and guitarists, share their passion and hopes for the competition. Their auditions, a step before LA’s live rounds, leave contestants awaiting results.

October

Koyuk celebrates the opening of their only church after major damage from Typhoon Merbok. Russel Richardson, a foreman from Samaritan’s Purse, arrived in May armed with materials and volunteers from all over the lower 48 to rebuild the church.  Before the renovation, the church lacked running water and electricity and had structural issues that compromised safety. Pastor Don Cross aims to foster connections and a sense of home for all in the new church.

November

The Diocese of Fairbanks welcomes Bishop Steven Maekawa, OP, ordained and installed this fall. Hundreds gather at the Carlson Center for the celebration, marking the diocese’s first bishop in over a year. Previously a pastor in Anchorage, Maekawa aims to understand rural Alaskan churches’ needs and foster connections within and beyond the state. His focus now is on learning and understanding before implementing changes. 

December

Etta Tall receives the “Della Keats ‘Healing Hands’” award for her efforts as a Tribal Healer. She began serving in the medical field when she graduated high school in 1988. The award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence, and sensitivity as a tribal healer or health care provider and whose accomplishments have most directly affected Native people in their home communities. 

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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.