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KYUK Managing Editor Steve Heimel Receives Journalism Honors From Alaska Legislature

Dec 14, 2016

Senator Berta Gardner, KYUK Managing Editor Steve Heimel and Representative Harriet Drummond at the Spenard Community Council meeting Wednesday, December 7, 2016. The 29th Alaska Legislature surprised public radio journalist Steve Heimel at the meeting with a Legislative citation honoring him for his many contributions to journalism and Alaska.
Credit Johanna Eurich

KYUK Managing Editor Steve Heimel has received honors from the 29th Alaska Legislature for his more than 50 years of contributions to Alaska public radio and journalism.

Senator Berta Gardner and Representative Harriet Drummond surprised Heimel with a Legislative citation at the Spenard Community Council meeting on December 7, 2016 for his decades-long journalistic impact throughout the state.

At the ceremony, Drummond told the crowd, “There were a bunch of people in the Legislature who wanted to be prime sponsors, but the rules are there can only be two. Berta and I got it since Steve lives in our district.”

Heimel, along with Johanna Eurich, began working with KYUK as News Managing Editors in July 2016. We continue to be so proud and excited to work with these two longtime, Alaska journalists.

We have reproduced Heimel’s Legislative citation below:

         The members of the Twenty-ninth Alaska Legislature honor the career of Steve Heimel for his extraordinary impact on the world of public radio and journalism in Alaska.  Becoming a giant in public radio broadcasting in the state of Alaska, his work has impacted both commercial and public radio for more than 50 years.

             Steven was born in rural Pennsylvania, and grew up learning the newspaper business from his grandfather and mother. Steve launched his own paper on space exploration as a boy. As a young man, he worked at a local, rural radio station. This began a career that took him from rural Pennsylvania to Houston, Texas, where he was on air at KILT, a Top-40 station.  From there, he moved across the city to turn around a struggling Pacifica station, KPFT.  In no time, he turned a small station into the envy of the Houston-area market. His station would have a role in shaping the careers of Willie Nelson, Kinky Freedman, and many others.

         Drawing on his previous experiences, his next project was Informazine, which mixed local news, the techniques of live production, and delivering exciting content to listeners, and was met with cult-hit status.  The most significant story he produced during this time was a piece exposing rampant civil rights abuses by the Houston Police Department.

         After that he helped found the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, headed back home to Pennsylvania, created a scientific news program, worked training public broadcast volunteers, and then moved to West Virginia.  He worked with local residents to create WVMR and broadcast the station through Pocahontas County. Operation in a solar heated building run by volunteers, WVMR would lead the effort to change the way public radio was funded to allow federal support to flow to small, rural public stations, including those in Alaska.

         Steven then moved further north than he ever had before, all the way to Alaska.  In the Last Frontier, he helped cover some of the most controversial issues in the state, from the economy to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  He also helped in the creation of National Native News and Native America Calling.  He left an indelible mark in Alaska's public radio history. Steve joined the Alaska Public Radio Network in 1984, founded the statewide call-in show "Talk of Alaska" and remained there for more than 30 years. He has been a member of the science journalism press corps for decades. His traditional country music show "The Truck Stop" has been running for 15 years on Anchorage Station KNBA and Bethel station KYUK. Steve remains active in broadcasting and web based science news programming at the new website aknoosphere.com.

         The members of the Twenty-ninth Alaska Legislature honor Steve Heimel and appreciate his many contributions to our great state.