Transmission 475     May 2005

In this issue:









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Dear Friend of KNOM,

 As we write this, we mourn the loss of the Holy Father, and we are praying for the College of Cardinals’ decision. 

A new pope may be elected by the time you receive this.

It is at times like this that we are especially conscious of the tremendous scope and breadth of the Catholic Church, worldwide, active even in remote corners of the globe like Nome, Alaska.

For KNOM, April brought transition, also, but one that was simple and happy, as ten-year director of programming Ric Schmidt was named general manager.

Thank you so very much for your prayers and your support this past month.  You and those you love remain in our prayers.


THANKSGIVING:  (left)  KNOM spiritual director Fr. Mark Hoelsken, SJ, delivers the homily during a special Mass of Thanksgiving on the Feast of the Annunciation.

The Mass was a celebration of the many people who have made KNOM possible over the years, especially Tom and Florence Busch.  Florence has devoted twenty years to the station, and Tom thirty-three.

General manager since 1975, Tom is stepping down to become financial officer for the radio station, a job that will include fundraising.  At the same time, the couple is moving to Anchorage, where Tom intends to spend many quiet hours of creative time developing means of finding new contributors.  The two departed Nome April 12th.

“KNOM is more than one person, and more than all of us together,” Father Mark said.  “You do not know the tremendous scope of your work,” he told KNOM staff and friends.  “What you are doing is very, very important in many lives.”

It was a joyous evening.  Please turn to the next page to read more!


KNOM is the oldest Catholic radio station in the United States.  It beams inspiration and education throughout 100,000 miles of isolated western Alaska.  It relies on you.  97% of this award-winning radio station’s income is gifts from people like you.

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  American humorist Hosea Ballou once wrote:  “Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.”




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STEADY COURSE:  (left)  Outgoing general manager Tom Busch, at left, discusses KNOM’s future with new general manager Ric Schmidt.

“We’ve worked as a team for the past ten years,” Ric says, “and that will continue.  Very little will change.  We will remain on the course that Tom has steered for almost thirty years, including the continued goal of doing our job even better as time passes.”

Tom will work for KNOM in a new position, financial officer. 

“While the mission lives hand-to-mouth,” Tom says, “we are in wonderful shape.  We are given what we need to operate what might be the most award-winning radio station in the United States.  We have an immense, appreciative audience, we are doing work that is extremely important, our staff is excellent, and we have wonderful, loyal benefactors.  The only area where KNOM needs serious improvement is acquiring new donors.”  Like most charities, the mission loses about 15% of its contributors each year for various reasons. 

“We are thankful that additional people are coming on board all the time,” Tom says, “but it is increasingly difficult to find them.  I will be devoting most of my energy to that, to ensure that the mission remains strong into the future.”  

Managing KNOM has never been easy, Tom says, “but I’ve been greatly rewarded to have known so many wonderful people.  Every one of them can be proud of what we’ve accomplished, and the work which we continue to do.  This radio station is absolutely fantastic and absolutely unique.”

From Albany, Oregon, Ric was a KNOM volunteer in 1984.  He was founding general manager for Catholic KBVM-FM in Portland, and ran the station for seven years before returning to KNOM as director of programming in 1995. 

He and wife Lynette Schmidt, also a former KNOM volunteer, now KNOM business manager, have six children whom she home schools two blocks north of the radio station.



INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  The most important things in life are not things.


INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:   God expects us to be construction workers, not part of the wrecking crew.



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(Left)  Volunteer Tom Busch cues a 45 RPM record in KNOM’s Studio A, 1971.


Raised in Philadelphia, Tom graduated from Boston College, and came to Nome in February 1970 as the Catholic radio project’s volunteer chief engineer.

In 1973, with the station on the air and well established, he moved to Fairbanks, where he worked as announcer and chief engineer for commercial station KIAK-AM.  “I flew to Nome several times to help with transmitter maintenance,” Tom says, “but I never expected to live here again.”

Just two years after leaving, however, he was back as KNOM’s general manager, a job he held for a month shy of thirty years.  Over that time, he was president of the Alaska Broadcasters Association twice, and among other honors, has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.  In 2004, for his service to KNOM, his alma mater conferred upon Tom an honorary doctorate.

Among incoming 1975 volunteers was Florence Francis, a Yup’ik Eskimo woman from the village of St. Marys who had listened to KNOM’s very first broadcast.  Born in the village of Pilot Station, Florence served as secretary and afternoon deejay.

She and Tom married in 1977 and raised two children, who are now both grown. 

Once the kids were in school, Florence resumed volunteering for the mission part time, and became full time business manager in 1989.

Today, you’ll continue to hear her voice on many spots, including the ones which KNOM produces for Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as on most of the station’s award-winning “Eskimo Stories and Legends” programs.

(Left)  In this August 1990 evening on the tundra, Florence Busch has picked nearly two buckets of salmonberries.


“We decided five years ago to make this move, and we’ve been planning for it,” Florence says, “but I know that we will miss Nome greatly.”

“I’ll be flying to Nome at least once a month,” Tom says, “so for me, the transition is an easy one.  And I’m excited that free of the day-to-day chores of managing KNOM, I will finally be able to devote large blocks of time to development.   Florence and I have been greatly blessed.”  

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:   As Christians, we have the light of Christ within us.  But Jesus reminds us that it is not enough to have this light.  We must shine it.



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A GRAND TIME:  From Roseville, MN, Dick and Patty Durgin dropped in to visit granddaughter Amy Flaherty.  It’s their second trip to Nome.

Amy is public affairs director and deejays the morning show.

Folks in Nome recognize her grandparents’ voices, as Amy features them on her program once a month by long distance telephone.


DOWN TO THE WIRE:  As this is written, one of the unipole wires on our 230-foot tower remains broken, as we have been unable to fit into a climbing crew’s schedule.  Fortunately, Nome’s notorious wind has been relatively calm.  The few times it has picked up and the dangling ends have slapped onto other elements of the antenna, we’ve had to reduce power. 

Here’s hoping we can have it repaired soon!


30 YEARS AGO:  May 1975, Nome Static #100 rolled off KNOM’s creaky mimeograph machine, sent to approximately 500 friends and contributors. 

May 23rd and 24th brought heavy snow.   

May 29th, former volunteer Tom Busch returned to Nome from KIAK in Fairbanks, becoming general manager, the mission’s first partially salaried employee.  His buying power dropped by 75%.


“WEATHER” OR NOT:  In early April, Nome’s temperatures were running about twenty degrees below normal, rarely rising above zero and plunging to -20° many nights.  Brr!


It was an interesting coincidence that Father Mark’s Mass of Thanksgiving happened to take place on the Feast of the Annunciation, as the angel Gabriel is patron of communications.  A Gabriel icon has been affixed to the equipment rack in Studio A since our first broadcast in 1971.

Thank you so much for your goodness to our mission.  Please stay with us through the challenges ahead, won’t you?

At Mass, among the many thanks we expressed to Our Almighty Father was gratitude for His sending us kind people like you.  We pray that He blesses you abundantly for your generosity and your prayers, and we pray for everyone you love and for all of your intentions.  God bless you!

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