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Woman stands next to radio microphone inside studio.
Traci McGarry inside KNOM studios, June 2018. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

Traci McGarry hails from Iowa: she was born in Clinton and grew up in nearby DeWitt. She stayed in the midwest for her undergraduate years, majoring in psychology and religious studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin, but then headed west for graduate school, earning a master’s in education and school counseling at Western Washington University.

In the years to come, she’d keep her sights westward. With her then-boyfriend (now-husband), Traci took a summer job at Alaska’s Denali National Park, which sparked an interest in living in the state year-round. After two years teaching English in Korea, and after finishing her master’s, Traci connected with the Bering Strait School District at a recruiting fair. She and her husband Bryant moved to Nome, where Traci took up a job as school counselor for BSSD’s NACTEC program, and they’ve been Nome residents ever since. A few years later, she went to work for Kawerak.

Traci’s path to radio was forged thousands of miles away from Alaska, however, during the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans in the mid 2010s. “I discovered trad(itional) jazz and brass band music and loved it,” she remembers. “I bought a bunch of CDs from local bands, and when I got back to Nome, I offered to donate them to KNOM. Instead, (then-program-director) Kelly offered me a show, and I took it.”

The spirit and music of the New Orleans festival has influenced her show ever since, Traci says. “During my show, I talk about our time at the festival (we’ve been 3 times now) and provide information on the bands and types of music I’m playing.”

When not behind the microphone or listening to New Orleans jazz, Traci and her husband Bryant enjoy spending time with their cats, rafting down the Nome River, and adventuring on the Alaska countryside near Banner Creek.