The Nome Static
The Monthly Newsletter of the KNOM Radio Mission

February 2012

Transmission 563

Paul in Studio AThermometerUS Coast Guard's HealyAndy Mahoney with ice corerFlorence in original KNOM studiosYoung Tom Busch at transmitter tower

Dear Friend of KNOM,

It's an incredible moment to be serving the people of Western Alaska.

In the wake of frigid temperatures not experienced in decades – and a fuel delivery never seen before in Alaska – we can't thank you enough for making our mission possible. As you'll discover below, your support is allowing us to report on extreme weather and on an historic, international voyage that sliced through the frozen Bering Sea to bring Nome a much-needed supply of gasoline and diesel.

Even as the thermometer dips below zero and Nome remains in the headlines, we're keeping our focus on our mission's future: both for its facilities and its staff.

Work continues on plans for the digital conversion, renovation and expansion of our studio building. The Tom and Florence Busch Digital Studios will be essential to the future of KNOM; replacing our aging, analog equipment will save us time and money and make our operations more sustainable. We're thrilled to have raised more than a quarter of the $600,000 that we estimate we'll need for the project: all thanks to you!

Meanwhile, we're also working to recruit new applicants for our long-running volunteer program. As you'll read below, the KNOM volunteer program has changed lives and launched careers.

As always, we thank you for making a difference for thousands of families in Western Alaska. Amid the Arctic freeze, you are keeping spirits warm this season. Thank you!

 

Still Volunteering
Paul in Studio A

The strength of the connections forged by KNOM's volunteer program continues to amaze us. We're humbled by the support we receive from volunteer alumni: including, most recently, from former volunteer and longtime staff news director Paul Korchin, who returned to our mission for a few days just before Christmas.

Paul donated his time and helped out with odds and ends at the station. He logged a few hours deejaying (as pictured) and assisted the staff in KNOM's annual, hugely popular Christmas call-in show, which allows listeners from throughout Western Alaska to share their holiday greetings on the air.

As we thank Paul for his service – both this past December and throughout his many years at our station, from the 1980s through 2009 – we're also hard at work recruiting the next generation of KNOM volunteers.

If you know a talented, motivated, community-service-oriented individual, we urge you to share with her or him the incredible opportunities that KNOM's volunteer program has to offer. We are currently accepting volunteer applications, with special priority given to applications received by February 15th. Application forms and lots more can be found right here on our website.

inspirational spot

No matter what language you speak, kindness is the universal language of love.

It is the language everyone understands.

Deep Cold
ThermometerIciclesStatueStreet signs

24 below, 30 below, 37 below, 40 below: the recent temperatures in Nome have been cold enough to make even seasoned Alaskans put on an extra layer.

With memories of 2011's epic Bering Sea storm still very fresh, rural Alaskans began 2012 with more superlative weather: this time, in the form of continued subzero temperatures of an intensity and duration not experienced in decades.

On January 5th, Nome hit its coldest official temperature in almost 13 years: 40 below (-40° F), the likes of which had not been seen since February 1999. Just a day later, the Nome office of the National Weather Service announced that our late 2011/early 2012 cold snap had reached the tenth consecutive day of temperatures reaching 30 below or colder: the longest such cold streak since 1989. In that span, we'd broken single-day records stretching back to 1917: including on January 3rd, 2012, when Nome's high temperature – its high, mind you – was 30 below.

The deep cold coated almost everything in Nome with a thick layer of frost, as seen in the photos. (From top to bottom: a thermometer on the facade of a Nome house; dramatic icicles seen on Front Street; an ice-encrusted statue in downtown Nome; thick frost on a street sign.)

This extreme cold posed a serious threat to many of our listeners. KNOM's weather forecasts expanded to include warnings of almost unbelievably cold wind chills (at times pushing 70 below), and several of the villages in our listening range – Savoonga (suh-VOON-guh) and St. Michael – faced challenges even to their basic utilities.

Frigid temperatures in Savoonga threatened a complete freeze-up of the community's entire network of water pipes, and in St. Michael, many homes temporarily lost sewerage services. As local authorities rushed to avert calamity, KNOM kept Savoonga and St. Michael listeners informed on the latest outages and sanitation advisories. Meanwhile, KNOM's news department – as it does every day – brought the story to Western Alaska.

It's through your generosity that we kept the heat running and the transmitter broadcasting throughout this incredible cold spell. Thank you!

inspirational spot

Prayer begins by talking to God, and it ends by listening to Him.

A Voyage Never Before Taken
Russian tanker Renda on the Bering Sea iceUS Coast Guard cutter HealyAndy Mahoney with ice corerUnmanned drone aircraft

As we describe above, extreme weather and its consequences remain at the forefront of life in Western Alaska – and of our mission at KNOM Radio.

As we go to press, Nome is just about to make history with the arrival of our very first fuel delivery during the winter months: a fuel delivery vastly complicated due to severe weather.

Nome normally receives its gasoline, diesel, and home heating fuel via ocean barges that make deliveries during the summer and autumn, when the Bering Sea at Nome's shoreline is free of ocean ice. But because of the severe Bering Sea storm in November 2011 (detailed in the Christmas edition of the Static), our final fuel barge was delayed, just long enough for the formation of ocean ice thick enough to prevent its arrival.

The solution to this problem was as dramatic as it was unique: a Russian tanker, the Renda (pictured at top), carried Nome's fuel hundreds of miles to port. It was escorted by the US Coast Guard's Healy (pictured second from top), which broke through Bering Sea ice one to four feet thick and made a path for the Russian vessel and its essential cargo of gasoline and diesel.

The delivery was made possible through the hard work of many different organizations and individuals: among them, experts with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF), who scouted the Bering Sea ice near Nome in advance of the arrival of the Renda and Healy. Andy Mahoney, an assistant research professor (pictured at middle), used a large device called a "corer" to take a vertical sample of the sea ice off Nome's coast. His UAF colleagues then mapped Nome's shore ice using a small, unmanned drone with a camera (photo at bottom). Their work offered valuable insight into the extent and makeup of the ice that the Renda and Healy traversed to make their delivery.

Throughout Western Alaska in January, listeners followed these stories and many others through the intrepid work of KNOM's news department, which followed the Renda and Healy's journey from start to finish. For these photos and many more, visit KNOM on Facebook and on Flickr.

inspirational spot

It's not enough to count your blessings.

The point is to make your blessings count.

"Our Connection to KNOM"
Florence in KNOM's original studiosYoung Tom Busch at transmitter towerFlorence Busch with children Steve and Kate

We're honored to conclude this month's issue with the reflections and memories of Florence Busch, a longtime KNOM volunteer, staff member, and wife of KNOM founder Tom Busch. (Top photos of Florence and Tom are from KNOM's early days.)

My friends and I listened to KNOM's very first broadcast – on July 14th, 1971 – and tuned into KNOM every day thereafter. It was such an exciting day. After listening to the announcers and getting the feel of their personalities, I even told my friends that I would marry Tom Busch!

I became a volunteer on September 10th, 1975. I assisted Therese "Tweet" Burik, KNOM's business manager; voiced educational and inspirational spots; deejayed once a week or more if needed; and, of course, did "other duties as assigned." This included some occasional work for Tom, which I always enjoyed.

On September 3, 1977, Tom and I married in my hometown of St. Mary's, Alaska. In 1989, I became KNOM's business manager. During those years, the mission of KNOM – to inspire, to educate, to be a companion – became an integral part of my commitment to the station. Times when Tom and I were fortunate to meet our listeners and donors were uplifting, encouraging and energizing. Getting to know and work with our volunteers kept us young and on our toes! Now, they are our family and friends.

Tom died on his 63rd birthday, November 1st, 2010. We miss him so much. My children Steve and Kate and I (pictured) have experienced an overwhelming amount of love, support, and prayers from KNOM's donors, its present and past volunteers, staff, and listeners: reinforcing in us our connection to the KNOM family.

Please accept this sincere thank you to each of you. We thank God for you and pray for your family, your friends and your intentions. It means a lot to us that the work of KNOM continues to connect so many lives in faith, hope and love. Thank you again, and God bless.

inspirational spot

Dear God, be good to me.

The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.

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