Good morning, internet. My name is Matthew Smith, and I’ll be blogging as KNOM’s volunteer Public Affairs Director. I work on the “news” side of the KNOM staff, but before we get to that, a little about me.
After finishing college, I spent two years teaching English through the Maryknoll China Teacher’s Program. I moved back home to Delaware and continued to teach English as a Second Language for two years before learning about KNOM, applying, and moving to Nome. I wanted to get some experience working in a news environment, and working in radio. As KNOM’s Public Affairs Director, I get to do both.
But what is Public Affairs? Knowing it’s part of the “news” side of the KNOM equation will probably help explain things. Y’see, my colleague/roommate/fellow volunteer Ben Matheson is KNOM’s news reporter. He does daily news duties, works the Nome “beat.” If KNOM were a newspaper, Ben would provide the front page news. Public Affairs is more of the human interest stories, page 2 of the paper, maybe some of those longer pieces you see on weekends. Through longer news stories called Profiles, I’m able to do extended pieces on people, events, and points of interest in the region. This can range from a pretty fun story about a local project studying ravens, to a more straightforward news story about water fluoridation in Nome, to the outright jokey profile about birdwatchers and birds. Sometimes the profiles match up with what’s in the news, like this past January when Nome recevied a lot of attention for a first-ever winter fuel delivery through nearly 400 miles of sea ice. Other times, profiles give voice to a story that just doesn’t fit in the lineup of the headlines.
As Public Affairs Director, I also have the privilege of producing a monthly show called Elder Voices. I travel to communities throughout the Norton Sound region, interview elders, edit our conversation and set their stories to music, all before sharing the completed episode with our listeners. I have learned so much about the history of Alaska, and our region in particular, through these trips and interviews. I can’t imagine living in Nome without understanding the unique history of the region. In addition to providing local stories for our listeners, Elder Voices allows me to learn more about our region with every interview.
So that’s what I do in Public Affairs. But there’s a whole lot more to being a volunteer at KNOM. You’re constantly taking on new tasks, from hosting an episode of of our Sounding Board call-in show to covering sled dog races like the Iditarod. I get to host a Wednesday night rock show, I’ve gone out to perform maintenance work at our transmitter, and I’ve helped co-captain KNOM’s Relay for Life team with fellow volunteer Matty Guiffre. KNOM has been a great place to work and learn, and I look forward to sharing those experiences with you on this blog.