We were so gratified to welcome back to Nome so many KNOM alumni last month.
Top photo (left to right): volunteer alums Betsy Brennan, Claire Richardson, Katy Clark, Therese Umholtz, Michael Jones, Angie Muñoz, Annie Blandford, Ric and Lynette Schmidt, and Paul Korchin catch up at Salmon Lake (a favorite camping site about an hour's drive north of Nome).
Bottom photo: Paul Korchin (second from left), KNOM supporter Cathy Hiebert (second from right), and former volunteer Father Ross Tozzi (far right) join the station's current staff and volunteers outside KNOM. (Full caption, left to right: David Dodman, Paul Korchin, Ben Matheson, Kelly Brabec, Lynette Schmidt, Laureli Kinneen, Ric Schmidt, Leah Radde, Matthew Smith, Matty Guiffré, Tuesona Tungwenuk (seated), Cathy Hiebert, Father Ross Tozzi.)
Let us not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awe.
On KNOM's 40th anniversary, general manager Ric Schmidt hosted a special dedication ceremony on our airwaves.
After prayers from Father Ross Tozzi – a former KNOM volunteer and current pastor at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Nome – Ric dedicated the KNOM studios to broadcasters Augie G. Hiebert and Tom and Florence Busch. News director Laureli Kinneen captured the ceremony on video (photos at left; see the video on our 40th-anniversary page).
Hope is not closing your eyes to difficulty, risk or failure.
It is a trust that if you fail now, you shall not fail forever; if you are hurt, you shall be healed.
You can trust that God is good, and His love is powerful. Remember that hope lives in you!
We were honored to welcome Cathy Hiebert and Terry Puhr to KNOM's 40th birthday celebrations. Cathy and Terry are the daughters of Augie Hiebert, a broadcaster who offered vital support to KNOM over the years.
KNOM's current studios are now dedicated in memory of Augie G. Hiebert. For the dedication ceremonies on July 14th, Cathy and Terry unfurled the banner proudly displaying the new name of our broadcast center (photo above).
When KNOM first went on the air – July 14, 1971 – some of its volunteer broadcasters lived in the building you see at top left.
The dormitory was affectionately dubbed "The Crooked House" because of the building's slightly angled, off-kilter walls. This dorm, and a few others, were refurbished "KD" (knock-down) buildings originally built by the Army – as temporary structures – during World War II. It was all the station had at its disposal, and KNOM's first volunteers happily made do with what was available.
By the early 1990s, however, the KD buildings were history – literally – thanks to the hard work and craftsmanship of, among others, carpenter Pat Hahn (seen at middle with Ric Schmidt). Pat took the lead on constructing KNOM's new, modern dormitory building and garage, in front of which he and Ric are standing. On July 14th, 2011, he stopped by KNOM to wish the station well.
Indeed, KNOM anticipates further construction and modernization in the near future. In the coming years, we're hoping to expand our broadcast studios and to convert them to digital (rather than analog) equipment, which would save on operating costs and make our studios far easier to repair and maintain. The construction will cost approximately $600,000, and on our 40th birthday, we reaffirmed our commitment to the project.
We dedicated the future building as the Tom and Florence Busch Digital Studios and placed a fundraising thermometer near the eventual construction site. As you'll see in the photo at bottom, we've already raised nearly $100,000 for the project. We're hoping further donations – and, possibly, grants from foundations and other funding organizations – can help us inch closer to our goal.
KNOM offered a special contest prize on its 40th birthday: two round-trip tickets on a regional air carrier, Bering Air, which were donated to the station for our giveaway.
After receiving more than 500 entries, both in-person and online, KNOM volunteer DJ Tuesona Tungwenuk (photo at top) randomly selected the winning ticket. The prize went to listener William E. Soonagrook (SOO-nuh-grook), Jr. Staffers Kelly Brabec and David Dodman (bottom photo) announced the winner on the air.
Our Father, when we long for life without trials and work without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.
With stout hearts, may we see in every calamity an opportunity and not give way to the pessimism that sees in every opportunity a calamity.
KNOM wasn't the only one celebrating an anniversary last month.
July 14th, 2011 was also the 10-year anniversary of the ordination of Father Ross Tozzi, a former KNOM volunteer, a longtime supporter of the station, and, for the past few years, the pastor of Nome's St. Joseph Catholic Church. Father Ross – seen above in February 2011 – celebrated a special Mass on July 14th, recognizing both KNOM's birthday and his own jubilee. He also officiated at KNOM's studio dedication ceremonies (see above).
As part of our birthday celebrations on July 14, KNOM offered 780 free hot dogs to its listeners and members of the Nome community. (780 is our AM frequency.)
The response was nothing short of enthusiastic, and we had a number of equally enthusiastic volunteers at the ready to grill and serve.
Nome supporter Catherine DeAngelis (photo at left) sported a KNOM apron and hat – and a smile – while grilling the dogs.
As we go out to take God to others, know that we will meet Him through them.
Those who stopped by KNOM for a hot-dog lunch on our birthday were greeted by Tim Schmidt (son of general manager Ric and business manager Lynette) and KNOM supporters George Cebula and Terry Puhr (all pictured above).
George and Terry not only traveled to Nome to participate in our 40th anniversary, but they also were the first to offer a helping hand throughout our birthday celebrations.
Many thanks, George, Terry, and Tim!
In our journey to heaven, going out of our way to help someone else is not considered a detour.
It may be the main road.
As is the case with many birthdays, our 40th anniversary offered a great reason to rediscover good friends and old memories in our photo archives. Here are just a few vintage shots.
You may recognize some of these past KNOM volunteers: not least because a few of them later joined our mission as full-time staff members!
From top to bottom: Marie (Dieringer) Fessenbecker, Scott Diseth, Paul Korchin and Betsy Brennan.
Scott volunteered at KNOM in the station's earliest days (in the 1970s), while Marie, Paul, and Betsy all volunteered at our mission during the 1980s.
Ultimately, Paul and Betsy both came back to KNOM as staff members: Paul as news director (1997 to 2009), and Betsy as development specialist (2007 to present).
Our mission has been sustained through the incredible talents and dedication of volunteers and staff members like Marie, Scott, Paul, and Betsy – and, of course, through the generosity of donors like you.
As we embark into our fifth decade of broadcasting in Western Alaska, we couldn't be happier with our full-time volunteers, all of whom were in high spirits for our anniversary celebrations on July 14th.
Matthew Smith (top photo), our public affairs director, produces our long-form news programs Profiles and Elder Voices, deejays on Sundays, and often reads news and records our hourly weather forecasts.
Leah Radde (photo second from top) has just departed KNOM after two years of dedicated service as our music director. During her final year at KNOM, Leah hosted the Morning Show, a job she's now passed to fellow volunteer Matty Guiffré (third photo). (Leah and Matty's photos, in fact, were taken on our 40th birthday while the two shared air time in the late morning.) When Matty's not on the Morning Show, he's creating new educational spots as the station's production director.
Ben Matheson (photo at bottom), KNOM's news reporter, reads daily newscasts, records weather, and keeps a sharp eye on what's happening in Western Alaska.
We – and our listeners! – are so happy that Matthew, Ben, and Matty have all committed to a second year of service at KNOM. We couldn't do it without them.
We're immensely gratified that KNOM has meant so much to its volunteers over the station's first four decades. Alumna Katy Clark (volunteer 1988-90, staff news director '91-94) recently offered us these reflections:
I arrived in Nome for the first time in August 1988. Back then, KNOM volunteers were members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and we arrived en masse. Everyone in Nome seemed to make a sport out of identifying the new KNOMers. I'm sure they also braced themselves for a few difficult weeks as we made our awkward on-air debuts.
That first winter, the thermometer dipped to the minus fifties. We just added a few extra layers of clothing and went about our business of falling in love with rural Alaska – while also learning what it meant to work at a radio station that so many people rely upon for information, inspiration, and basic companionship. It was a heady job for someone just out of college. I've continued working in radio since leaving KNOM in 1994, and the opportunities and challenges have been great. Still, none of my jobs since has given me the same satisfaction as working at KNOM.
It was something of an accident that landed me in Nome back in 1988. Eventually I came to see it as the hand of God steering me to exactly where I needed to be at that point in my life. Much of what I learned about faith, community, simple living and social justice I learned while serving at KNOM. Whenever I find myself losing my way, I often think back to how we did things at KNOM – or what I learned from those I met in Nome – to help get me back on track.
To put it simply, I do not know where I would be today if KNOM hadn't entered my life.
It's no exaggeration to say that KNOM can be life-changing: not just for our listeners, but also for the people who volunteer their time and talents at our mission. We can't thank you enough for making their contributions possible.
Photos: In the early 1990s, Katy Clark reports on an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race; in 1989, volunteers Michael Jones (in the window), Sean Brennan (on the ladder), and Ross Tozzi, Scott Cooper, Luke Larson and Mark DeLucchi put the KNOM sign back on the original studio building after a facelift. The sign still hangs on the station's current studios.