The Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year, but in media it starts way before anyone has even begun to think about their Thanksgiving menus. At KNOM, it’s been Christmas since the middle of November. Because we program our days two weeks in advance, we’ve been integrating Christmas music and specialty programming into our routines since around November 15. By last week, our Christmas production was largely finished, and now we’ve already past the New Year. So by the time the Christmas Call In Show came around, I was pretty much over specialty Christmas shows.
The Christmas Call In Show is a KNOM tradition: for seven hours on the Friday before Christmas, listeners can call in from all over the region and wish their family and friends “Happy Holidays!” live, on air. The show takes two people to facilitate: one person to DJ and host on air, and one person to answer the phones, get the caller’s first name and location, and alert the DJ as to whom is on what line so that the show can run more smoothly. Two weeks ago I signed up to manage the phones while Laura hosted for three hours during the afternoon. I had no idea what the Christmas Call In Show even was when I put my name down. On Friday, I watched Kelly cover the phones before taking over at noon, and I was super nervous – every line was constantly busy, and sometimes the connections weren’t very clear. Three hours seemed like a really long time, and hadn’t Christmas ended last week? I thought that maybe my eagerness to volunteer had been premature.
Little did I know that I had signed up for three of the cutest, most heartwarming hours of my life. Alaska is a huge state, and that distance seemed to disappear on KNOM’s airwaves as children sang “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” to their grandmothers from over 300 miles away, old neighbors sent greetings to one another, and parents who couldn’t get home for the season wished their families “Merry Christmas.” People from California, Oregon, New Mexico, and Anchorage called in to tell their friends and relatives in Western Alaska that they were in their thoughts and prayers this season. It was amazing to talk to our listeners and truly connect the region. KNOM is for Western Alaska, and it was incredible to have a show that was truly BY Western Alaska as well. Three hours didn’t seem like long enough.
The extent to which people in Western Alaska keep in touch with their families and engage with their communities continues to amaze me. Answering phones for the Call In Show reaffirmed to me that KNOM is not only a source of news and entertainment, but also a source of community in an area that spans thousands of miles. I was truly touched by people who wished the KNOM staff a Merry Christmas when they called in to broadcast holiday greetings to their family.
Merry Christmas to you from the KNOM volunteers. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes and traditions this holiday season. My next post will be in 2014, so have a safe and celebratory New Years too! We can’t wait to see what happens in the upcoming months.