780 AM | 96.1 FM | “Yours for Western Alaska”

Phones and ghosts

One year ago I discovered KNOM. The application deadline said February 15. I stumbled upon the site around March 15. Within an hour of reading the job opportunity, I dashed off an email to Laura, the Volunteer Coordinator, asking if they were still accepting applications. She said yes. A week later I submitted my materials. A week after that, Laura called, asking if KNOM could fly me to Vegas for an in-person interview. She apologized for the late notice. “I’m free Monday,” I said, thinking all the while, Why are you apologizing for offering to fly me to Vegas?!

Five months later, I was in Alaska.

Now, that process of discovery and applications has begun again at KNOM. For the past several weeks, the permanent staff has been gathering in Studio C, shutting the door, and interviewing potential volunteers. I never did a phone interview. So I don’t know what questions are being asked or what conversation is weaving between the wires. But looking through the studio glass at the circle of bodies and microphones, there is a presence of a ghost. A sense of someone hovering in that liminal realm of possibility.

Several times, Emily has told me, “Another applicant called while I was on my DJ shift asking for Laura.” And every time I would think, “Dude, I would have asked them so many questions.” Not a job interview. That is not my role. Just basic questions like where are you from? How did you hear about KNOM? What type of radio do you listen to?

Then last Tuesday, the phone rang.
“KNOM Radio. This is Anna Rose.”
It was an applicant. Asking for Laura.

This is it, I thought. This is my chance. A question started rolling down my tongue, gaining momentum, growing fuller, syntax and punctuation structuring an architecture of curiosity, a giant, curvaceous question mark catwalking from behind, sexy and tempting as all get-out.

I took a breath.
I could hear the caller’s expectant pause on the other end.

And I realized… I didn’t want to know anything about this person.

I didn’t want to know anything about any of the potential volunteers. I didn’t want to know their name or gender or where they’re from or what position they’re interested in.

It’s better if they remain a mystery, ghosts. It’s better for me to exist where I am, surrounded by my fellow volunteers and to allow the people who will replace us to exist wherever they are. Our worlds are not ready to merge, and I don’t want to create false images of what that collision would look like.

“Hold on one moment,” I told the applicant. “I’ll get Laura.”