For Michael Burnett, living in Alaska is the latest chapter in a lifelong history of travel.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as the son of a construction company accountant, Michael and his family moved across the country multiple times during his youth, and he continued to explore the US upon becoming an adult. He’s lived in 14 states since graduating high school; a career as a personal trainer turned massage therapist has taken him to California, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, among other states.
In 2015, that career took him north to Alaska, when a massage therapist position opened up in Nome. Initially, Michael says he was “hesitant” and uncertain about the move, since he’d never been to Alaska before and knew no one in town. The decision about whether to even apply for the Nome job “came down to a flip of a coin” in the office of Michael’s previous job, he says. Thankfully for Nome, and KNOM, the coin landed on tails, which set him on the path to a new job and a new adventure in Alaska.
“The three things I love the most in my life,” Michael says, “are making people feel better, taking chances and listening to music.” It’s fair to say that Michael gets to do all three through his volunteer role as a deejay on KNOM’s weekday mornings. He began the position during a moment of special need for the station, as an extended leave of absence left vacant the 10am to 12noon slot, Mondays through Fridays (one of KNOM’s most listened-to times). “When I heard that there was need for a volunteer deejay, I had to jump at that opportunity,” Michael explains. “Music has been the one constant in my life. Having moved around so much as a kid and in my adult life, music has been the one thing that I rely on for my piece of mind.”
Among Michael’s other interests and hobbies are photography, painting, drawing, hiking, fishing, and camping — and, of course, the eagerness for travel that brought him to Alaska in the first place. In Nome, he’s active in the local Rotary organization and a member of the Nome Arts Council. “I enjoy helping out wherever I can,” he says.