July 24, 2019: Raven Radio in Sitka, Alaska
Alaska’s unique geography and way-of-life leads to unique radio. Raven Radio is a public and community station serving the city of Sitka, along with seven other small towns in Southeast Alaska. The station is not just a source of news, music and culture, but also a lifeline for people living in remote communities where there may not even be cell service.
Becky Meiers moved from Portland, Oregon and community station KBOO to become general manager of KCAW in fall of 2018. Paul made Sitka the last stop on his spring Alaskan vacation to visit her at the station this past Memorial Day weekend, taking time for an interview. Becky explains why the station airs a mix of conventional public radio programming, like NPR’s “Morning Edition,” alongside the kind of volunteer-produced programs that one associates with community radio.
Broadcasting in a market with just two other radio stations, Raven Radio really needs to be “all things to all people” in a way that is demanded of few stations in the lower 48. While a tremendous responsibility, it also leads listeners to learn how to use a station that doesn’t air the same programming 24⁄7, and to value the resource. The experience of broadcasting at KCAW informs takeaways about community radio in general that Becky shares with us.