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Will Travel, But Only with Checklist

A winter sunrise in Koyuk

In my time at KNOM, I have had the opportunity to visit six different villages on upwards of a dozen trips. Whether traveling for an episode of Dearest Alaska or Caught Doing Something Good, my trips outside of Nome are always precluded by a checklist. You gotta have a checklist!

First, I started by using the checklist provided to me on my first day at KNOM as a guide to traveling to regional villages for stories. Before I traveled outside of Nome for the first time – to Wales for the annual Kingikmiut Dance Festival – I had everything I had to do itemized on a piece of paper. It looked something like this:

  • Propose my travel plans with on-air shift coverage
  • Arrange travel with Bering Air
  • Arrange necessary lodging with IRA or school (including any payments needed!)
  • Arrange travel from airport to village
  • Bring the needed gear (batteries, extra batteries, a Marantz field recorder, a microphone, a spare microphone, an SD Card, a spare SD Card… you get the picture…)
  • Bring toiletries, a sleeping bag, extra winter gear, identifiable KNOM gear, and a change of clothes

Except I think I probably broke all of those bullet points into even smaller discrete bullet points, and then those bullet points into the most manageable way to divvy up tasks that I could think of to both get it done and not get too overwhelmed. Which did end up making me feel pretty prepared for my trip, which went smoothly. But even with all of that planning, I still forgot to bring things – like our newsroom cellphone which has coverage outside of Nome!

By now, I still have that checklist firmly memorized by rote practice, but I also have a new checklist that I bring with me, at least, in my head:

  • Go outside and walk around (even though everything you need to do is inside of the school).
  • Talk to people you don’t know.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be open to what happens.
  • Do things that aren’t on your list.
  • Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your list.

It’s easy for me to get stressed out about any kind of travel, so I like to remind myself to take it easy and go with the flow. And it’s actually been working. In a recent trip to Koyuk, I came to interview three students for Caught Doing Something Good and then also ended up walking away with my first news story “package” – just because I was present, engaged, open, and confident enough to pursue a lead. Which is more than I can say for what I’ve done in the past!

Image at top: A winter sunrise in Koyuk, from my most recent travel outside of Nome in 2018. Photo: Karen Trop/KNOM.