Friday, June 06, 2008

KNOM to Russia

Seward's Folley was named for Secretary of State William Steward. In 1867, the United States bought 586,412 square miles of North American Tundra from the Russian Empire. Russia was broke and couldn't even borrow money. We wrote them a 7.2 million dollar check. Obstruction by Republicans in the House of representatives delayed payment almost a year. It was about a century later that we realized our Alaskan radio signals were heard deep inside the Soviet Union.

But for the most part English-language fluency in Siberia was rare. So in 1987, a century later, a volunteer at 780 KNOM-AM created “KNOM’s Radio Bridge to Siberia.” Therese Horvath, designed a program for listerners on both sides of the Bering Strait. Initally the program was in Russian but later another volunteer, Sean Brennan added Yupik ( the Siberian native language.) He brought in Rev. Tim Gologergen (pictured) to help.

They are not the only Russian-language station in the U.S. even 1470 WAZN-AM used to carry some Russian programming in downtown Boston. But uniquely KNOM was audible inside the Soviet Union. Their AM signal reached several hundred miles across the bearing sea from Nome to Siberia heard inside the provinces of Koryaksky, Chukotsky, and Kamchatskaya Oblast.

This and other valiant efforts have won KNOM an array of programming awards. They've won the Marconi “Religious Station of the Year” twice. Since 1979 they've won the Gabriel “Radio Station of the Year” Award 14 times. They are also the only religious station to ever have also won the NAB Crystal Award for Excellence in Local Programming. As always check Fybush for more on KNOM's tower site.