Thirty years ago this August, as part of a freshly recruited volunteer cohort for KNOM, I stepped off the Sunday evening Alaska Airlines jet and onto the tarmac at Nome.
A gaggle of radio station personnel had come out to meet us, and the episode remains lodged in my memory as an exhilarating and vibrant blur. The one and only face that I can recall from that moment belonged to Tom Busch. KNOM’s General Manager (my new boss) was wearing a blue satin baseball jacket with yellow station call letters, and he greeted me with a firm handshake, a broad smile, and a sonorous (indeed, broadcaster-worthy) voice: “Welcome to Nome!” What I did not know at the time—yet what grew clear to me during my two-year volunteer stint—was how this brief inaugural encounter so perfectly displayed several of Tom’s finest qualities as KNOM’s leader: enthusiastic, optimistic, devoted, appreciative, compassionate, Catholic.
Twenty years ago this December, as the newly-hired KNOM News Director, I stepped off the Monday evening Alaska Airlines jet and back onto the tarmac at Nome. The greeting party was smaller this time around, yet no less warm and welcoming. The radio station had made changes in the interim to strengthen its sustainability, hiring a full-time permanent core staff that included former volunteer Ric Schmidt as Program Director. Ric collaborated marvelously with Tom over the years in assembling crack teams of young men and women dedicated to Arctic missionary service. When Tom stepped down as General Manager in 2005, Ric stepped up to preserve and foster KNOM’s Catholic ministry to the remote communities across Western Alaska.
Nearly five years have now passed since I first met KNOM’s newest General Manager, Margaret DeMaioribus. Like Tom and Ric before her, Margaret began at the radio station as a volunteer, rapidly moving up the ranks thanks to her tireless work ethic, her sharp strategic vision, and her natural affinity with KNOM’s Catholic identity. Just as Tom and Ric introduced vital innovations during their years in charge, surely so too will Margaret as she guides the radio mission along the approaching steps of its ongoing path. Yet I remain confident that what will not change is KNOM’s half-century of commitment to, and expression of, the Gospel values of Christ Jesus. All three of our Catholic-born General Managers — first Tom, then Ric, and now Margaret — have been charged with sustaining and sharing these sacred values among the entire KNOM family, including our loyal listeners, our tireless staffs, and our generous donors. My profound thanks to each of you for continuing on this journey forward with us.
— Paul Korchin
President, KRM Board of Directors
Image at top: Paul Korchin inside KNOM’s Studio A.