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The Bigger Picture

Anchorage, Alaska

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from the Alaska Press Club to travel to Anchorage for a journalism workshop. As I’ve mentioned before, the state’s largest city has served as a home base for me over the years I’ve spent in Alaska, so going home was both hectic and humbling.

While I don’t have blood relatives in Anchorage (or any in Alaska, for that matter), I do have family there. My aforementioned (in many previous blog posts) soul-sister Britta so generously loaned me her truck and her entire apartment (she was house-sitting and her roommate traveling) for the four days I was in town.

Two other friends met me up in the mountains one day (they were calling, as they always do) for a day of back/cross country skiing. I don’t have much experience veering off trails in skinny skis, but their adventuresome spirit was somehow addicting while not at all intimidating.

Hatcher Pass

Back/Cross country skiing at Hatcher Pass. Photo: Emily Russell/KNOM

In between the out-of-town adventuring and the happy home-bodying, I was able to fit in a lot of the activities that make Anchorage so great: night skating on Westchester Lagoon, filling up on delicious Korean food, running on the Coastal Trail, perusing for used books at Tidal Wave, and, of course, catching up with old friends over fabulous meals of salmon and sweet potatoes.

While all of that did contribute to the hectic and humbling nature of my visit, attending the workshop that I had traveled to Anchorage for was perhaps the most moving of all my experiences.

As reporters for KNOM, Laura Kraegel and I are always pulling stories from other reporters throughout the state to fill our daily news casts. The journalistic skill of reporters at Alaska Dispatch News and in the Alaska Public Radio Network is one that never ceases to impress me.

So simply meeting and mingling with those reporters at the workshop was an experience in and of itself. But when one of those reporters approached me to tell me that he donated to KNOM last year, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor. The fact that someone similar in age donated any portion of his earnings was impressive on its own, but the fact the he chose us, a rural radio station seemingly so far from all the big-city action, was astonishing and unexpected.

It’s easy, nestled up here in Nome, to serve western Alaska without seeing the bigger picture. While a select few of our stories do get picked up by the Dispatch or APRN, the sole six months of experience under my belt hasn’t yet instilled me with enough confidence to see myself on the same level as the reporters employed at both of those outlets.

But speaking with the Anchorage-based reporter helped me realize that, although they can’t hear us down there, both Anchorage and the entire state are paying attention to what happens in western Alaska. And while no roads lead out of Nome, KNOM does its best to connect all Alaskans to the remote region that we call home.