Spinach frittatas. Whole-wheat waffles. Greek yogurt. Smoothies. Oatmeal buffet. Tundra-picked berries. Coffee. Tea.
Oh, yeah. It must be Wednesday at KNOM.
When you are behind the microphone, it’s easy to forget how it is that you are serving others. You don’t see the people you reach and they don’t see you. This dynamic often makes me feel both exposed and invisible, a confusing feeling at best.
What’s great about Breakfast Wednesday at KNOM is that I finally get to break that barrier and meet our listeners. With the help of the CAMP Department- a Nome health organization that specializes in nutrition and healthy living- we discuss ways to prepare healthier meals and invite our listeners to sample some of these foods during our Morning Show hours. It also gives me an excuse to talk about food, prepare it, and eat it.
I enjoy meeting our listeners. Whether it’s through meeting them in person on Breakfast Wednesdays or on the phone through our Sounding Board talk show, Talking to them keeps me in tune with what they care about.
This year, being a newb to both KNOM and Nome presented me with the challenge of serving a community without really knowing said community. The proper bookworm that I am, I took it upon myself to research and study about Western Alaska. I read a lot about Inupiaq and Yupik music, dance, and culture. I read about family dynamics, religion, and language. I also read about long-standing problems with alcohol abuse, violence against women, fights over subsistence rights and racial tensions.
Reading about something does not necessarily equate to knowing or understanding. To truly understand something we must dig beneath the surface. We won’t know what’s really troubling us unless we open up and talk about the issues at hand. Yes. It’s easier to talk about nutrition than it is to talk about, say, sexual abuse, but talking about the hard stuff takes time and trust. Until then, the conversation has to start somewhere. And while we’re talking, well. Might as well be eating something.
(Not to undermine nutrition… diabetes prevention and living with diabetes are important topics to western Alaskans. I just don’t want to sound too heavy-handed.)
When people hear of “working volunteers” or “volunteer opportunities” they usually think of volunteers building houses for the homeless or curing the sick. They don’t normally think of volunteer DJs and news reporters.
Whichever way you see it, volunteering is a privilege. Not everyone can afford to dedicate themselves to serving others full time and I am grateful and humbled for having the opportunity to do what I do.
Part of being a volunteer at KNOM is finding your strengths and using them to create a positive impact in your community. Blood scares me and Zeus knows I can’t use a hammer to save my life, so no playing doctor or architect for me, but I can start good conversations and make some of the meanest blueberry waffles you’ll ever have. I’m not naïve enough to think I can “save” the planet, but if I somehow manage to make you laugh before 10am, I think I’ve done my job.