96.1 FM, 780 AM, Yours for Western Alaska

Dial it in

When you’re in an urban area, you can scan the radio and stumble across dozens of stations. As a big radio fan, I love working the dial, and can fumble around for hours. But in a remote area like Nome with very few radio stations, it’s a bit more interesting (and thrilling) to pick up new and different radio signals.

Living next door to the KNOM FM transmission tower, I pick up KNOM at several spots on the dial, anywhere from 89 to 106. It will also bleed through other speaker wires. That’s fun in its own way.

Using a signal booster, I’ve picked up the aviation forecast on the am dial. I don’t think it’s supposed to be there, but it allows me to listen to recorded information on the visibility and cloud ceilings at a number of remote airports. Is this what pilots listen to when they fly? Either that or books on tape. And if you have a weather band radio, you can pick up NOAA Weather Radio with information from Nome’s National Weather Service office.

I was in Shishmaref last week, which is about the northern edge of KNOM’s listening area. I took the chance there to tune into Kotzebue’s KOTZ for a few minutes. Classic rock under the midnight sun!

Late one night in Unalakleet, I picked up KENI radio out of Anchorage, a talk station.  I also tuned into an ESPN radio affiliate on AM.  After filing a late story at 2 a.m., I heard the 6 a.m. east coast morning sports show broadcast and the latest on NFL labor negotiations. AM signals can go a looong way at night. I’ve caught Anchorage-based radio on car radios at night as well. Our engineer, Les, can pick up KNOM in Palmer (just north of Anchorage) at a certain time on winter mornings. Radio enthusiasts all over the world find KNOM. I spotted a Japanese outfit that heard KNOM in recent weeks. I’m trying to find a way to hear Bethel’s KYUK.

And don’t tell anyone, but I’ve accidentally bumped my iPod’s radio function while flying over the lower 48 and listened to radio stations broadcasting local football games and county music. At 500 miles an hour, it’s never long before one signal cuts out and another takes its place. It’s wonderful. I’m like a dog with its head hanging out the window.