Mike Martz

“May you live in interesting times” is a saying, some say a curse, thought by many to have originated in ancient China.  During a brief Internet search, however, I discovered that it’s actually neither Chinese nor ancient. Regardless of its origins and age, the phrase certainly describes the current times here in Alaska. From the most devastating wild fire season in decades to the continued decline of King salmon runs to the drop in oil prices that precipitated historic losses in State revenue we Alaskans are indeed living in very “interesting times”.

These are also very “interesting times” for Alaska’s public media stations. The rapid fire pace of technological change has brought about an incredible array of new devices and new pathways for public stations to connect with their communities, to become the electronic town square connecting communities with each other and providing a host of services that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

The challenge facing public media in these “interesting times” is to use this technology to create and distribute meaningful content in new ways that will satisfy the demands and needs of our fellow Alaskans for reliable, up to date and vital information and entertainment that they will find of value. To achieve that goal requires innovation that moves us beyond the tried and true, some would say “tired”, programming formats and delivery methods that have been the foundation of public media here for decades. We must push ourselves out of our comfort zones if we are to stay relevant to our communities and our state.

We can’t continue to do business as usual. The current bleak State revenue situation is stark evidence of that new reality. While some may see this as an obstacle to the reinvention of Alaska public media, others, including myself, see an opportunity for real systemic change to occur.

For that to happen will take real leadership, a broad, courageous vision and a willingness among all public media outlets across Alaska to cooperate, consolidate, coordinate and take risks.

We do indeed live in “interesting times.” Stay tuned.

In keeping with the old adage that “everything old is new again”, KYUK has brought classic radio back to our evening schedule.  Packaged together into a program we’re calling  Old Time Radio, shows like The Green Hornet and The Shadow are the first of several classic radio drama series to be featured on 640 AM on Monday evenings from 9-10pm.

With advice  from our Community Advisory Board, these “old” new programs are part of a broader set of programming changes KYUK is making.

We’re making it easier for late risers on the weekend to catch the news.  NPR’s Weekend Edition now airs from 8-10am, an hour later than before matching the Sunday morning news schedule.  As part of that change,  Car Talk will now air two hours earlier on Saturday mornings.

Car Talk has been airing “best of” and replayed versions of the show since the retirement of it’s hosts and following the death of host Tom Magliozzi in November.  It now airs on Saturdays from 7-8am on 640AM until we find a new NPR public affairs program of interest to our listeners to replace it.

A second hour of Undercurrents, a music show hosted by Gregg McVicar and produced by Native Voice One, is now included in Friday night’s programming schedule starting at 11pm.  Now several hours of Undercurrents, each unique and different, can be heard on  KYUK 640 AM and 90.3 FM.

We’ve replaced This American Life with Radiolab,  a show based on our natural curiosities that blurs the boundaries between science, philosophy, and the human experience.   Listeners can hear Radiolab Sunday evenings 8-9pm.

KYUK’s flagship talk show, Talk Line, expanded to a 90-minute program in April after several months of experimenting with the longer format. Talk Line airs live on Friday mornings from 10-11:30am, with a replay  on Friday evenings on 640AM starting at 7pm.

Our goal in making these changes is to better fulfill KYUK’s mission, as set by our Board of Directors. That mission includes entertaining, educating and informing the YK Delta.

KYUK’s full program schedule can be found on our website kyuk.org by clicking on the link labeled ‘AM Weekly Guide.’

Join us for the fourth annual Webby Award-nominated PBS Online Film Festival. This year’s Festival features 25 short-form independent films from various station and producing partners.

Vision Maker Media is pleased to offer Jeffrey Palmer’s uplifting short film, Isabelle’s Garden–a story of a community coming together in reciprocity, through the hopes and dreams of a young, Choctaw girl and her garden. The short film was supported and launched through the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge which aims to showcase stories that communicate how we can support one another to end poverty and hunger once and for all.

Stream the videos anytime from June 15 to July 17, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite videos, including Isabelle’s Garden. This week, ROKU users have an exclusive preview of the PBS Online Film Festival via the PBS ROKU app (http://www.pbs.org/roku/home). Beginning June 15, the Festival will be available via PBS digital platforms including PBS.orgYouTube, and PBS social media channels.

The PBS Online Film Festival showcases diverse films from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), POV, StoryCorps, and Vision Maker Media, as well as PBS local member stations including Alaska Public Media, CET/ThinkTV (Cincinnati/Dayton), KLRU (Austin, Texas), KQED (San Francisco, California), Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Twin Cities Public Television, UNC-TV (North Carolina), and Vermont PBS. Promotional partners for the PBS Online Film Festival include ITVS and World Channel.

The Festival showcases powerful and engaging stories from filmmakers across the country, while also providing an opportunity for producers to reach and engage a digitally-savvy audience. The Festival has become a popular, annual online event–attracting more than 350,000 streams and 50,000 votes cast for the winner last year.

Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite film to win the “People’s Choice” Award. For updates on the Festival, follow #PBSolff on Twitter.

“PBS prides itself as the home for independent film, whether on-air or online,” said Ira Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS Digital. “With the Online Film Festival, PBS and its member stations have the opportunity to bring unique, high-quality independent film to a highly engaged, digitally savvy audience.”

About the Filmmaker: Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa)
Jeffrey Palmer felt that this vignette, Isabelle’s Garden, about a Choctaw girl would not just shed light on conditions in the area, but also provide some insight; old traditions, it turns out, can help us create a better present and future.

From the earliest days of public broadcasting in the 1960’s, particularly in public radio, volunteers have played an integral role in helping stations fulfill their mission of service to their communities.

Even in this age of digital technology, with automated programming systems and satellite interconnection, local volunteers still play a vital role in local public media services at stations large and small across the country. Volunteers are the local voices of public media in their communities. They bring a variety of perspectives, diversity and talents that help keep local public media truly local.

KYUK has relied on volunteers from the beginning of its operations in 1971 and that reliance continues today. Over the years, we have had volunteers host radio and television shows, assist in fundraising events, organize and perform in talent shows and other station special events, read the evening television news on air, work as TV camera operators, help out with station repairs and construction projects and serve on our boards.

Currently we have close to forty individuals who volunteer their time and talents to KYUK and to their community. One of those individuals, Jean Brinich, has been the volunteer host of the Classical Sunday music program for twenty years. We thank Jean for her years of service and dedication to public media in the YK Delta.

I’d like to take this opportunity to publically thank all our volunteers who donate their time and talents to support KYUK and public media in our region:

Sports Broadcasting (High School Basketball and Wrestling)

Bev Hoffman            Mike Hoffman

Jill Hoffman             Donna Bach

Zach Fansler            Darrell Garrison, Sr.

Corey LePore            Ben Caragnan

Matt Murphy (basketball statistics)

Music Shows

Ben Caragnan – Underground Sound

Caroline Proux & Katrina Beitz – T.R.A.S.H.

Marissa Pardue & Kelsey Wendland – Radical Ravens

Matt Murphy – Organic Blend

Sara Guinn- 5 Cups of Coffee Later

Brian Berube- Stinkhead Stu

Drew Colbert & Myka Kernak – Happy Hour

Rybo Shore- Saturday Sessions

Jean Brinich- Classical Sundays

Peter Twitchell- Delta Country

Talk Shows

Fritz Charles – Yuk to Yuk

Diane McEachern, Joe Moses, Jr., Fran Reich – Talk Line

Community Advisory Board

Donna Bach            Sarah Angstman

Fran Reich               Allen Joseph

Kathy Hanson         Jenn Peeks

Andre Jacobs          Sam Blankenship

 Board of Directors – Bethel Broadcasting, Inc.

Max Angellan                     Fred Phillip

John Lamont                      Dave Cannon

Moses Tulim                      Jean Brinich

Cindy Andrecheck            Janet Kaiser

If you are interested in finding out how you can volunteer at your local public media station, contact us here at KYUK at any time. We always welcome anyone seriously interested in supporting local public media.

To find out what you can do as a KYUK volunteer, call Ryan at 543-0228 or send an email to radio@kyuk.org.

Each year KYUK news and content staff enter the best of their work in the annual Alaska Press Club awards.  This award competition recognizes the best work in news reporting and news photography from across Alaska.

KYUK has consistently won awards in a number of categories in the past and this year is no exception.  Three KYUK staffers won awards at this year’s competition.

News Director Daysha Eaton won first place in the Best Single Story Reporting Category for her story “Tragedy Renews Hope for Bethel Family”.

News Reporter Ben Matheson took a third place in the Best Reporting on Health Category for his story “Spay and Neuter Clinics Improve Village Safety”.

Both Daysha Eaton and Dean Swope received a third place award in the Best Multimedia Presentation-All Media Category for their story “Fire Burns Bethel Alcohol Treatment Center Construction Project”.

Congratulations go out to all three of these hard working KYUK staffers for continuing our tradition of excellence.

In an earlier post  I presented the KYUK Radio Report to the Community. This report is a requirement of the federal grants we receive through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting- CPB. KYUK-TV also receives substantial financial support from the Federal government through CPB grants. As a joint radio and television licensee, KYUK also must prepare and present a report to the community on our television services for the prior year.   In this article I will present some of the highlights of our local television services for 2014.

For 44 years KYUK Radio and Television has shared the world with the people of the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta and shared the unique culture, lifestyle and issues of the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta’s people with the world.

In 2014, KYUK-TV continued the transmission of four digital channels of free over the air public television programming for the community of Bethel. These channels include PBS, the Alaska Rural Communication Service (ARCS), 360North/Gavel Alaska and a local message channel. This has been a key local service provided to the community of Bethel for 43 years.

In late March 2014, KYUK once again shared with the world the Cama-i Dance Festival, Bethel’s celebration of dance, culture and artistic expression held each spring in Bethel. KYUK-TV has documented this event since 1991. In 2014 we had a multimedia team produce feature print and audio stories, a photo slide show and a sixteen minute highlights video that were all posted to the KYUK website.

In September, 2014 KYUK entered into a partnership with the Tundra Women’s Coalition working with their youth group, Teens Acting Against Violence (TAAV), to produce an interactive video program educating YK Delta teens on appropriate and healthy relationships. Titled Lets’ Talk About: Healthy Relationships, the program will be written, produced and acted by members of the TAAV teen group who will present this video program to their peers in communities throughout the YK Delta as part of their community outreach program. The goal of this project is to reduce the incidences of sexual violence and suicide among teens in Y/K Delta communities. Additional partners include YK villages touched by sexual violence; schools throughout the YK Delta and YKHC’s Behavioral Health Department.  This project is now in the production phase. The anticipated completion date will be in July of 2015.

The construction phase of our USDA Rural Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant is nearing completion.   Demolition and construction began almost a year ago in April 2014. During the ensuing months, we removed all our 20+-year-old analog production and studio equipment from our control room, dismantled equipment racks, rerouted, replaced and upgraded electrical wiring, took down three walls to open up the space, installed new lighting and soundproofing, raised the floor to accommodate wiring for the new equipment and had the floor carpeted.

We are awaiting delivery of a second low power TV transmitter purchased through this USDA grant. The addition of this second transmitter, on channel 17, will provide the community of Bethel with a total of eight free, over the air digital TV channels.  One channel on this transmitter will broadcast programming locally produced by KYUK. A second channel will broadcast UATV, a programming service of the University of Alaska- Fairbanks produced by our partner station KUAC-TV. UATV programming includes the First Nations Experience Television Network (FNX). The FNX network distributes programming by and about Native Americans from KVNR-TV, a public station in San Bernardino, California. The two remaining channels will be offered to the Lower Kuskokwim School District and to the City of Bethel for their programming use.

We are beginning the equipment procurement phase through this grant now, selecting equipment including a video server, automated program play out system, cameras and studio production and support equipment. When completed, this multimedia area will be able to provide programming over the air via our channel 15 and 17 low power transmitters and via broadband over the Internet. Our vision continues to be for KYUK to once again produce local program content in our community, for our community, our region and statewide while at the same time participating in the training of the next generation of digital media creators in the YK Delta and beyond. We will fulfill this vision in partnership with our region’s five school districts offering a state of the art digital production center for real world, hands on multimedia training for our local students.  Our measure of success for this project continues to be the extent to which we can involve the community and the five regional school districts in this project in sustainable and long-term ways.

Finally, our statewide television partnership with Alaska Public Media in Anchorage and KTOO-TV in Juneau successfully completed its second year of operation in 2014. It is through this partnership that KYUK-TV is able to provide a full PBS program stream to our community along with other relevant public programming like 360North and Gavel Alaska during the legislative session.   Although KYUK is not capable of providing locally produced programming to the statewide service at the present time while we are rebuilding our digital capacity, when we complete this project we will become a more active program provider in this shared TV service.

We are in a rebuilding period that will continue for the next twelve to eighteen months that will bring KYUK-TV into the digital era so that we can continue to provide public media services to our community as we have done since 1972.

Each year KYUK Radio, like all public radio stations across the country, receives substantial financial support from the Federal government through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting- CPB.

In order to comply with the requirements of our CPB grants, each year we produce a report that describes the local content and services we have provided to our community during the previous year. This report is submitted to CPB and also must be posted on our station website.

This year I also want to present here some of the highlights of our local radio services both on the air and on line for 2014.

In 2014 KYUK 640 AM radio broadcast a total of 8,765 hours of programming. Of this total close to 600 hours was original programming. We broadcast over 4,000 hours of music, over 3,200 hours of news and public affairs, over 700 hours of arts and cultural programming and over 250 hours of sports programming including high school wrestling, basketball and the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race.

In addition to our regularly scheduled programs like Talk Line, Yuk To Yuk, Wellness Wednesday, basketball coverage and the Birthday Call-in show, some special programs of interest during in 2014 included:

  • Live broadcast of the Debates for the State: US Senate & US House
  • Live broadcast of the Yupiit Nation fisheries management meeting.
  • Live call-in program on Kuskokwim King Salmon management.
  • Live broadcast of YKHC’s annual Tribal Gathering.
  • Live broadcast of the grand opening of the YK Aquatic Fitness and Training Center.
  • Live broadcast of the YKHC Behavioral Health Conference.
  • Live studio performances and interviews with Alaskan folk artists Hobo Jim and Emma Hill.
  • Halloween & Christmas stories by John Active.
  • Live broadcast of the Bethel City Council Candidates Forum.
  • Live coverage of the AFN Convention.
  • Live coverage of two BRHS wrestling tournaments.
  • Live broadcast of AVCP’s 50th anniversary convention.
  • A live interview with a Veterans Affairs representative on obtaining VA benefits.
  • Live broadcast of the Yupiit Nation fisheries management meeting.
  • Live call-in program on Kuskokwim King Salmon management.
  • Live broadcast of YKHC’s annual Tribal Gathering.

We continue to regularly broadcast in the Yup’ik language as we have done since KYUK signed on the air in 1971.   In addition to the one-hour per week Yup’ik language talk/call in program, Yuk To Yuk, we added a second hour long Yup’ik language program featuring respected elders discussing a variety of topics of interest and value to our Yup’ik audience. Topics in 2014 included subsistence hunting and fishing rights, conservation of declining King Salmon, the political process and government involvement, tribal sovereignty, education, health care, substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention, elder care, child welfare, ANSCA issues, environmental issues and Yup’ik language and cultural preservation and enhancement.

In partnership with the Ayaprun Elitnauviat Yup’ik immersion school, we started producing a Yup’ik word of the week segment airing three times a day. We also continue to produce newscasts in the Yup’ik language three time a day every weekday and post these newscasts to our website daily.

During the election season we broadcast a special program in both Yup’ik and English providing information and explanations on all the ballot initiatives. We also broadcast in both Yup’ik and English a Bethel city council candidates forum and a debate on the marijuana ballot initiative.

We continue to broadcast Native America Calling to keep our Alaska Native community engaged in and informed about issues, topics and problems discussed nationally across Indian Country.

In keeping with our mission to “educate, stimulate, inform and provide cultural enrichment and public access”, our goal is to be the community convener, providing platforms, both on air and on line, for the dissemination of information, for dialog, discussion and debate, to offer opportunities for education and to be a point of access for resources related to the issues, problems and values of importance and interest to our community.

We do this through announcements of events, conferences, workshops and the location of available resources. We make extensive use of public service announcements in both English and Yup’ik produced with our community partners that identify resources, provide education and advice, promote healthy living and strengthen families and cultural values. We coordinate these public outreach efforts with our news reporting to broaden public awareness and response to these issues. We offer opportunities for direct community interaction through the production of long form live talk/call in programs in both Yup’ik and English that provide opportunities for the community to address their concerns, questions and comments directly to experts, educators, to their elected government representatives, to federal and state natural resource managers, health care and legal professionals, business and industry leaders and to interact with elders and tradition bearers. We broadcast, webcast and link to our website special conventions and conferences that focus on topics of importance to our listeners in the YK Delta.

We partner with a broad cross section of local, regional and state organizations including Bethel Search and Rescues, YKHC, TWC, the Alaska Children’s Trust, public safety and law enforcement, AVCP, KuC, LKSD, ONC and many more.

The key initiatives we undertook with our partners in 2014, and will continue to undertake into the future, include health and wellness, natural resources, workforce development and employment, education, local/state/federal government, regional social and economic development, public safety, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect prevention, early childhood development and Yup’ik traditional values, language and culture.

It’s our supporters, listeners like you, through your financial contributions, your encouragement and your trust and confidence in KYUK that motivates us to work as hard as we can each year to bring you news, information, education, cultural enrichment and entertainment of value to you both now and into the future. Thank you.

The full 2014 KYUK Radio Local Content and Service Report is available on the About page of our website under Reports.

The Medicine Game

by Mike Martz on March 10, 2015

Lincoln, Neb:  Tucked away in central New York State is the Onondaga Nation, a sovereign Native American community known to produce some of the top lacrosse players in the world. Yet, the fear of leaving their community, substance abuse, and poverty have kept far too many of these players from venturing off the “Rez” and into collegiate or professional ranks.

Enter the Thompson brothers–Jerome “Hiana” and Jeremy–who are driven by a single goal of beating the odds against them and playing lacrosse for national powerhouse Syracuse University. During the brothers’ freshman and junior years of high school, they led their school’s lacrosse team to state championships. Based on this success, many people, including the film’s director/producer Lukas Korver, assumed they would compete for the state championship again.

“Lacrosse is more than just a game–it’s a way of life, it’s a heritage. It’s being Iroquois. It’s being Native American. It’s a part of their culture, their religion, who they are,” Korver said.

During the playoffs of their senior year, the undeniably close brothers had a shockingly out-of-character fight in the school parking lot, leaving Hiana hospitalized and unable to play lacrosse during his recovery from a broken jaw. Without Hiana on the field in the school’s next playoff game, Jeremy’s play suffered. The team lost, ending their chances at a third state championship. It would take two years before the brothers’ relationship healed to what it had been.

Hiana and Jeremy’s father, Jerome “Ji” Thompson commented, “They started school late and they’ve come from so far behind to catch up and do as well as they’re doing now. And, just to get that degree to show everybody, because I know there are people out there that actually know them that don’t think they can do it.”

“A lot of people say that it’s bad around here. But myself, I don’t know. I think it’s just like any other child growing up anywhere else,” said Jeremy.

With their now unfulfilled dream of winning a third state championship, the brothers heavily pursued their ongoing, shared vision of playing lacrosse for Syracuse University. Athletically, the brothers were standouts, but academically, they struggled. The obstacles in their way were frequent and daunting, but their love for the game, each other, and their family’s unyielding determination, helped propel these youth against the odds.

Ji, who doesn’t want his sons to be ironworkers like himself and generations before, explained, “The greatest gift you can give your children is your time. I taught my boys to respect the game–the game of lacrosse. Respect means to play as hard as you can, you know. Go out there and give it everything you can because you’re playing for the Creator.”

“I titled the film The Medicine Game because the game has helped not only the Thompsons, but many families and communities to stay healthy both physically and mentally, to bond with one another, and to learn many powerful life lessons,” said Korver.

To watch the film’s trailer, visit www.visionmakermedia.org/medicine_game. The Medicine Game is distributed by American Public Television (APT) and will be available to Public Television stations nationwide Tuesday, April 28, 2015. For broadcast information in your area, please visit pbs.org/stations.

Why does a non-profit organization, like KYUK, continuously asks supporters for financial assistance, you might ask. After all, we receive grants annually from both the federal and state government. Isn’t that enough? The answer is, unfortunately, no. KYUK does receive both federal and state operating grants each year. Together these funds only comprise a little more than half of the funds we need to fulfill our public media mission each year. The rest of our funds must come from other non-federal and non-state sources.

In addition, all grants, no matter where they come from, have restrictions attached to them that determine how they may legally be used.  For example, one of the community service grants we receive each year from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) may only be used to purchase nationally produced radio programming from distributors like NPR, Public Radio International and American Public Media. We cannot use these funds for any other purpose.

This and other grant restrictions can make it difficult to juggle the funds we need to cover expenses like salaries, heat or electricity.   We are required to have an independent audit of our finances performed each year to insure that we are in compliance with all of our grant rules and restrictions.

Another “string” associated with just about all grants is the requirement for matching funds. The granting agencies require these matching funds as evidence of community support for the non-profit organization’s mission and as evidence that the non-profit can contribute to paying it’s own way. One benefit of these matching funds is that they are considered unrestricted and can be used for operational expenses of any legitimate type.

For KYUK, some of the sources of unrestricted funds we generate come from charitable gaming, the fees we charge for public service announcements, fees for radio or television production work we do for local agencies or organizations and the underwriting of programming on radio and TV by local or statewide businesses and organizations.

By far the most important source of unrestricted funds, however, comes from the donations we receive from our listeners and viewers, like you, not just during our fundraising membership drives that we hold twice a year but also from programs like Pick Click Give.

We Alaskans are known for our generosity and that fact is clearly demonstrated in the amount of support KYUK receives from our loyal listeners and viewers. On behalf of all of us at KYUK I thank all of you for your continued support of public media in the YK Delta.

Pick Click Give is one very simple way to show your support for the charities and non-profits, like KYUK,  that are doing work that is important to you.

If you haven’t filed for your Permanent Fund Dividend yet, consider making a donation to a non-profit such when you apply. If you’ve already applied for your PFD, it’s not too late to return to the PFD website and make a donation.

If you are inclined to donate a portion of your dividend, consider including KYUK in your donation. However, no matter what organization you choose to support, it’s the generosity of Alaskans helping Alaskans that counts.

Love Alaska…Pick Click Give.

Current, the online newpaper of public broadcasting, reports six of the 14 2015 Alfred I duPont-Columbia University journalism awards went to public broadcasters.

Read the full article here.