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

Morning Light And My Light Mornings

My day starts when I walk into the station, flip on the lights, and wipe the sleep out of my eyes. It’s actually been dark outside, lately, when I leave my house to walk the 2 seconds it takes to get to the station. Yesterday, a full moon floated over the Norton Sound, a long white line reflected off those cold waters. As the shift progresses, I can turn my head to inspect the scene outside the studio’s window. The scene slowly changes over my 3 hour shift, from darkness to day. This morning, the light was gorgeous, and the bright colors made it seem more like a painting than reality.

The mornings are my favorite time. I arrive to a quiet station, and I can devote my attention to music, listening to the news, and trying not to stumble too much talking on the radio. Speaking is where I feel most insecure when it comes to my responsibilities as a DJ. I stumble and mispronounce words and names a lot. I have to play it off; I can’t pause or get frustrated on air, because, of course, it’s live radio. The best thing about having a radio show everyday is that, if I make a mistake, I know that, tomorrow, I can do better.

I was dubbed “Mitch in the Morning” soon after I arrived at KNOM, and the name stuck. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite nickname in the world, but it is funny, and people have picked up on it. The title’s corniness compliments my spacey and silly personality, which is in full force when I’m on the radio. I often fall back on describing what the weather looks like outside my window — and telling whomever is listening “I hope they have a good cup of coffee in front of them.” No matter what the weather is, though, I try to keep things positive. Other than watching the light change as the morning goes on, my favorite thing I do in the morning is the “KNOM Double Play.”

The Double Play was originally created to play the same artist back to back or to play songs that have something in common. For example, with “songs concerning color” I would probably play “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles and “Mr. Blue” by the Fleetwoods. Rather than sticking to these two formulas, I like to place a less obvious theme on two songs that I am about to play and make a combination that may not always be clear.

I really like making up jokes when it comes to what songs I put together. My favorite example, so far, is “Songs Birders Bird To,” which, of course, highlighted how “birders” (ornithologists) aren’t just cute people with binoculars, but, rather, stalkers who invade a bird’s home. Is that ridiculous? Oh, no doubt. Is it accurate? A little. The two songs that I chose for the birders theme were Hall and Oates’s “Private Eyes” and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Doesn’t it kind of make you smile a little bit, imagining Sting singing, “I am watching you”, as he lifts his binoculars to see a Red Headed Woodpecker? It makes me laugh thinking about that mental image.

Being able to make myself — and hopefully, others — laugh is so much fun. The idea that my Morning Show could brighten someone’s morning — or help it be a crummy morning — is a little daunting. It is something I have to be mindful of, and I believe it is something to remember on mornings when I may not feel energized.

Every morning, I feel better about my progress as a DJ. Hopefully I will get to the point where things just follow smoothly, but until then I am relying on the patience of Western Alaska.