Transmission 486    March 2006

In this issue:

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Dear Friend of KNOM,

For many years, the month of March was known as “suicide season” in western Alaska. 

That’s why we pay extra attention to our programming this time of year, covering the Iditarod Race and plenty of other events to keep our signal especially interesting and exciting.

We are deeply grateful for your financial help and your prayers.  At each weekly staff meeting, we remember you especially in prayer. 

God bless you for your generosity to the thousands of remote western Alaskans whom we serve every day.



AWARD: (left)  KNOM general manager Ric Schmidt and Bishop Donald Kettler hold KNOM’s 2005 Best Service to the Community Award from the Alaska Broadcasters Association.

The station received the honor for production of a program featuring Dennis Gaboury, a victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

Ric, and financial officer Tom Busch, were in Fairbanks to discuss the future of the KNOM mission with the bishop.


FREEZE!  News director Paul Korchin discovered it:  Water pouring onto the floor from the downstairs toilet.  After four weeks of subzero weather, KNOM’s sewer line had frozen.

Paul and general manager Ric Schmidt were able to stop the flow just before it poured into the engineering room equipment racks.

A freeze-up in Nome can take thousands of dollars to repair, but the two caught it in time, and everything was back working within a day.


KNOM is the oldest Catholic radio station in the United States, and among the country’s most honored stations, reaching out to families throughout 100,000 square miles.

INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Take a look at a turtle.  He doesn’t make any progress unless he sticks his neck out.

Look at you and me.  We don’t make any progress in becoming loving persons unless we take the risk of reaching out to others.

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THE WORLD IS YOUR FREEZER: (left)  KNOM business manager Lynette Schmidt and daughter Rosa dig into their freezer. 

Where?  In Rubbermaid tubs sitting on the back porch of their home.

On the average in Nome, daily high temperatures don’t rise above freezing until late April.

For their family of eight, the Schmidts ship much of their food in bulk from Anchorage.  In Nome, the cost of food is more than double what it is in the Lower 48.   


PICTURE THAT:  There's an index of almost nine years of Nome Static photos at  We invite you to visit it! 


TAKING THE HEAT:  Fuel oil is up to $3.50 a gallon in Nome this winter, and like many families in Nome, our mission is feeling the pinch. 

For the most recent thirty day period, it cost $492.46 to heat the volunteer dormitory.  The studio building, which is partly warmed by waste heat from computers, cost $277.45.  This is despite the fact that both buildings are super-insulated, with walls that are fifteen inches thick.

Since all of Nome’s electricity is produced by diesel generators, the price of power has skyrocketed, too, to a whopping 24.5 per kilowatt hour.


GOOD NEWS:  KNOM reported last month that there have been fewer search and rescue missions this winter than in many years past.  There are several possible reasons.  First, it’s been so cold that fewer people may be going into the wilderness.  Second, the price of gasoline may be a factor.  Third, because of the frigid weather, ice is thicker than usual on the surface of rivers and streams.


SNOW BUSINESS:  During Tom Busch’s February visit to Nome, the weather treated him to a rip-roaring, old fashioned Bering Sea blizzard.  “As I went to sleep,” Tom says, “the wind was roaring and moaning outside, and snow was blasting against the window.  I felt right at home.”


Please consider adding missions like KNOM to your will.  For many years, we have promised that all bequests will be placed in a fund that provides for emergencies and future major improvements.



     INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Each morning of life marks a new beginning.  Leave all of your dead past to God’s Mercy and your future to His Providence and loving care.

     Try to concentrate now only on doing His Will and working in the world as best as you can, just for today.


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DANCE: (left) Rose Anna Dan-Waghiyi (WAH-hee) performs at the annual cultural festival in the village of Stebbins.

Waghiyi is famous in the region for helping revive and preserve ancient traditions. 

Covering the festival, volunteer Liz Recchia interviewed her for the KNOM program “Elder Voices.”

“She had very interesting stories from her childhood,” Liz says, “things I took for granted…like airplanes, boats, and even pants, things that were new to her as a child and young adult.”


RENEWAL:  On February 1, the Federal Communications Commission renewed KNOM’s license for another seven years.  We weren’t surprised, but yay!


A FIRST:  KNOM has been heard by long-distance radio hobbyists in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan more than a hundred times.

Until last month, however, we had never received a reception report from the Lower 48 that we could confirm.  That’s because we operate on 780 kHz AM, the same frequency as powerhouse WBBM in Chicago, as well as KKOH in Reno, Nevada.

Recently, a DXer, as these hobbyists are known, in Albany, Oregon discovered that for the first time in years, the Reno station was signing off some nights.

And so, at 2:17 AM on the morning of February 1, he became the first person to listen to KNOM from the United States outside of Alaska, throughout the station's 35-year history.  Congratulations!


SPECIAL:  For KNOM program director Kelly Brabec, it was off to Anchorage for a couple of days last month for training.  Kelly is Nome’s volunteer head coach for the Special Olympics.  Kelly learned various coaching philosophies, as well as specifics of the particular sports that she’ll be asked to help out with. 


BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE:  Congratulations to KNOM volunteer news reporter Jesse Zink, who has passed the written and practical exams, to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician with the Nome Volunteer Ambulance Service.  Watch for a picture next month.



      INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Sometimes, faith must learn a deeper rest, and trust God’s silence when He does not speak.


     INSPIRATIONAL SPOT:  Lord, when I am weak, help me to remember that You are strong.  When I am afraid, help me to remember that You are always with me, and when You are with me, there is nothing to fear.


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SWOOSH: (left) KNOM volunteer production director Eric Gauthier learns that it’s true:  When it’s colder than –30, a cup of hot water tossed in the air will instantly freeze into vapor and ice pellets.  He described the sound as “like a baseball whizzing past you.”

Below 50, the water will explode with a “poof” entirely into frozen vapor.


THIRTY YEARS AGO:  During the Iditarod Race in March 1976, volunteer Florence Francis flew to the village of Unalakleet (YOO-nah-lah-kleet), where she interviewed fellow Yup’ik Andrew Soxie, an Iditarod competitor, in their native tongue.


SMOKE:  KNOM public affairs director Amy Flaherty reported this month on a survey of elementary school children conducted by the Nome Community Center.  Many Nome children first try cigarettes at age 10 and are addicted by the time they’re in the 8th grade. 

In an interview, survey administrator Tom Okleasik told Amy “Nome does have a problem with its youth.  We do have to accept that we have tobacco as an issue and that tobacco is a gateway to alcohol and drugs.”

We have so much to do, don’t we?


APPLY TOPICALLY:  Subjects discussed on KNOM programs recently included bird flu, which could strike North America first in western Alaska.  We discussed predator control, gold mining issues, a youth conference, and Alaska’s national image.  Volunteer news reporter Jesse Zink put lots of energy into explaining news of Alaska’s legislature in far-off Juneau.

Thank you for making all of these important programs possible!


RECENTLY SPOTTED:  Since January, KNOM has broadcast about 8,500 inspirational spots and an equal number of educational ones.


We cannot thank you enough for your kindness to the people whom we serve. 

Once more, you are in our prayers, in which we ask God to bless you abundantly.  Thank you!



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