Radio Free Alaska

One of the cool things we discovered while traveling in Southeast Alaska was the uniqueness of the local radio stations. Although I’m not completely clear on the business model, it seems that many of the small towns have only one radio station and it is typically run as a sort of public radio co-op.

Since the tastes of the local populace are quite varied, the stations play an equally reflective variety of music and programs. You may have Reggae in the morning followed by a little Country after lunch and then an episode of “This American Life” for the afternoon set. Mostly, the DJs are volunteers from the local community who get to choose their own programming—some become quite popular and in demand.

In Petersburg a friend even offered to let us come by and spin tunes on the midnight radio hour. We politely declined as we had to be underway early the next day but had we taken him up on it I can assure you that the late night Petersburg crowd would now be intimately familiar with the Replacements.

In Sitka the local station is in a shared building with an excellent coffee shop/restaurant. After dinner one night we went upstairs to see the station and the DJ invited us in and gave us a fun tour. Their discography collection was quite extensive but he did let slip a little secret of the local DJ trade—Pandora.

Community radio – by the people, for the people. Just another piece of the charm of Southeast.

— Wags

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