It was on July 14th, 1971 that our radio station first went on the air. The first broadcast, from an AM tower rising from the tundra on the outskirts of Nome, Alaska — a tower that was erected, in part, by literally dynamiting away large amounts of permafrost — came only after years of preparation; the selfless volunteer work of dozens of broadcast professionals, local community members, and even regional nurses; and a wide variety of logistical hurdles. The first studios and dormitories were, by some measures, a bit dilapidated; some were “knock-down” buildings left over from the US military’s presence in Alaska during World War II. But on July 14, despite challenges of nearly every stripe — from unseasonal blizzards and power blackouts to red tape from the FCC — 780 AM was finally on the air. KNOM Radio was born.
This month, in Nome, KNOM will be celebrating 45 years of service to the communities of our region. We thank God for the graces to be a vehicle of His blessings to Western Alaska. And we thank the thousands of people, like you, who’ve stood with us and supported this mission — since even before the call letters “KNOM” had been established.
Among the images for which we’re nostalgic as our anniversary date nears is the poster pictured below: one of the advertisements for our first broadcast that would have been seen around Nome in the summer of 1971. You’ll note that the actual date of broadcast had to be written on the poster, freehand; this is because we didn’t know, until just a few days in advance, exactly when our first date of broadcast would be possible. The poster also reveals a fun bit of trivia: our July 14th debut broadcast included pre-recorded well-wishes from Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, the governor of Alaska, and even Pope Paul VI!
To learn more about KNOM’s history, we invite you to explore our history timeline on this website. While you’re online, keep an eye on our Facebook page this month, too; we’ll be posting special announcements and content related to our 45th birthday, especially surrounding July 14th itself.