In this issue:   Dear Friend of KNOM, 

As you'll read inside, this is a time of change for the mission, with the retirement of our founder, Fr. Jim Poole, SJ, who wants to spend more time on his nursing home and hospital chaplaincies.  While Father Jim has not been in charge of the station since he left for Tacoma, Washington ten years ago, he has been lending a much-appreciated hand with fundraising. 

At the same time, we introduce Fr. Mark Hoelsken, SJ, a Jesuit priest whom KNOM old-timers will remember as a KNOM volunteer.  Father Mark will share correspondence with general manager Tom Busch and take on a new role as KNOM Spiritual Director. 

And—February 5th—we operated for the first time at 25,000 Watts! 

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Trust the past to God's Mercy, the present to God's Love, and the future to God's Providence.


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If you're a long-time friend of KNOM, you'll recognize Father Mark Hoelsken, SJ (left). 

A KNOM volunteer from 1974 through 1978, Father Mark will assume the duties of KNOM's Spiritual Director, while remaining full time pastor of three remote village parishes, Toksook Bay, Chefornak and Newtok, about 300 miles south of Nome, within reach of the KNOM signal. 

Welcome back, Father Mark! 

TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND!!!  The FCC finally signed the paperwork, and at  9:45 AM on February 5th, we turned up the power to 25,000 Watts, with Les Brown and Tom Busch spending hours at the isolated tower site, watching for sparks or signs of fire.  (Thankfully, everything just hummed along happily!) 

Our new license calls for 25,000 Watts during daytime hours, and 14,000 at night, a tremendous improvement from our previous 10,000 Watts. 

The first reports from villages were very enthusiastic.  Are you as excited as we are?

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost all of them.  But whatever I place in God's hands, I keep. 







Associated with the Alaskan missions for fifty years, KNOM founder Fr. Jim Poole, SJ has decided, while he's still healthy,  to retire to his work in the Pacific Northwest. 
 Father Jim came to Alaska in 1948 as a Jesuit seminarian, working at the village mission of Holy Cross 

He was ordained in 1952. 

Throughout his Alaskan missionary career, Father Jim has served as pastor for Alaska's most northerly parish at Barrow, as well as the villages of Mountain Village, Pilot Station and Marshall. 

At the Jesuit mission in St. Marys, Alaska in 1959, Father Jim hooked up a miniature "radio station," stringing speakers into thirty homes.  He quickly developed the dream of building a real radio station that would beam into a hundred entire villages. 

As today, diseases like hepatitis and tuberculosis were rampant in these remote outposts.  (Even today, many villages do not have running water or flush toilets.)  Circuit priests would rotate among them by bush airplane, small boat or dogteam. 

Bishop Francis Gleeson, SJ allowed Fr. Jim to pursue his dream, assigning him the Nome parish in 1966.  The only problem:  Father Jim had to find the funds. 

And so, December 1966 brought the first "Nome Static," sent to a couple hundred friends and friends-of-friends.  Gradually, his generous Lower 48 audience provided funds to build the new station, which was assigned the call letters "KNOM" in 1970.   

Still, donations were not quite enough, and Father Jim began to recruit volunteer nurses, most of them just out of nursing school, who worked at Nome's Maynard MacDougal Memorial Hospital, donated their salaries to the mission, and lived as volunteers. 

These generously donated salaries provided between 65% and 75% of KNOM's operating revenue for the station's first fifteen years on the air. 

With the arrival of carpenters and radio workers,the volunteer staff grew rapidly, to eight by the time KNOM signed on the air, and to a high of 22 in 1979, when seven nurses and eleven radio announcers, plus a maintenance man and two cooks kept the operation going.  Today, it's your contribution that keeps it strong. 

The station has always been immensely popular, as it blends contemporary music with information, education, and a tremendous dose of inspiration in a continuous joyful parade of news and spots sprinkled among the music and companionship.  Today, it battles the region's heartbreaking problems: alcohol abuse, domestic violence, suicide, chronic disease, poverty and despair, beaming God's Love for over a hundred thousand square miles. 

And it garners national attention, in Our Sunday Visitor, People magazine, St. Anthony's Messenger, as well as five Gabriel "Radio Station of the Year" awards, the National Association of Broadcasters' Crystal and Marconi Awards, and many others. 

With professional broadcaster Tom Busch as general manager since 1975, Father Jim remained KNOM's executive director until 1988, when after forty years in Alaska, he was reassigned to Tacoma, Washington, where he entered a new phase of ministry, hospital chaplaincy, while continuing to support the KNOM mission with fundraising efforts. 

"Today," Father Jim says, "after fifty years associated with the Alaskan missions, and approaching the age of 75, it seemed like a good time to ease back a bit and concentrate on my work here in my two hospitals and four nursing homes..   Tom and the staff have been running the station for ten years now, and it continues in the most caring and capable hands.  It's my fervent prayer that all of the station's benefactors will continue to support its wonderful work far into the future." 

Father Jim assures all of his friends that he continues to be healthy, and that he will stay in touch with the mission, which continues to serve Alaska's remote villages, thanks to your generosity.  "I will keep each of you in my prayers," he says enthusiastically.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION!  Finally!  The thermometer dropped down toward minus 30º in the last week in January, and carpenter Fred Lammer hammered together the wall sections for the new KNOM generator building inside the warm living room of a house under construction. 

(In the photo, Fred is standing atop all four, stacked together, taking a measurement on what will become the building's south wall.) 

February 3rd, the mercury rocketed upward to a balmy +30º, almost a record, and with no drifting expected for a few days, contractor Randy Pomeranz quickly plowed the transmitter road, hauled the wall sections and the new 66 kilowatt generator by forklift, and assembled them all in place.   Without bad luck, Randy expects to have the building fully up and running, prepared to provide KNOM emergency power, by Valentine's Day.    Hurray!

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Let your smile be sincere and friendly.  Your cheerfulness will infect the people around you.  Your smile can encourage the discouraged and help the hopeless. So be of good cheer!  You have hope in Christ and you can bring that hope to others.  Truly, you can make your world a better place.

 top We are currently interviewing prospective volunteers for the upcoming year.  If you know a young person whom you think might benefit from the KNOM volunteer experience, please have them contact us for an application packet. 

"WEBBER" OR NOT you have a computer that connects with the Internet, you probably know someone who does, or you can find use of one at your local public library. 

You'll find KNOM's web page at, filled with information on KNOM, a hundred photos from the past, and the past year's worth of "Nome Static" newsletters, all with photos in color.  There's also an image of "Static" Transmission #1, a list of KNOM awards, and lots more.  We invite you to look us up!

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT: As white snowflakes fall quietly and thickly on a winter day, answers to prayer will settle down upon you at every step you take...the story of your life will be the story of prayer and answers to prayer.      —Ole Hallesby 

top of page Once again, we thank you for your generosity to our mission, your continuing financial support and prayers.    May God bless you for your help! 

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