City Nome, Alaska
Broadcast area Western Alaska
Branding KNOM
Slogan Yours for Western Alaska
Frequency 780 kHz (AM)
96.1 MHz (FM)
First air date AM: July 14, 1971
FM: 1993
Format News, Regional, Country, Pop, Inspirational
Power AM: 25,000 watts day
14,000 watts night
ERP FM: 1,000 watts
HAAT -42 meters
Class A
Callsign meaning K NOMe
Affiliations Westwood One
Owner 501 (c) 3 nonprofit

KNOM is a non-commercial Catholic radio station in Nome, Alaska, broadcasting at 780 AM and 96.1 FM. The station owner and licensee is KNOM Radio Mission, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity with seven board members. The FM signal is 1000 watts and covers the city of Nome and immediate surrounding environs. The AM signal is 25 kilowatts during the daytime and can be heard as far north as Barter Island and as far south as the Alaska Peninsula, with regular coverage of approximately 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2). Its signal penetrates deep into the Russian Far East.

In addition to its local news, weather, public affairs and religious programming, KNOM broadcasts a wide range of music in various formats. It also broadcasts national news from CNN via Westwood One, as well as some syndicated programming, such as the Christian 20 The Countdown Magazine and the secular American Top 40: The 70s.

The station's newsroom is staffed by one full-time news director and as many as two full-time volunteer reporters. An Associated Press member station since 1971, the station dropped its AP affiliation in 2014.

In April 2015, the station was awarded "Best Daily News Program, Radio" in Alaska by the Alaska Press Club.[1]


KNOM is the oldest Catholic radio station in the United States, and has been broadcasting in western Alaska for over four decades.

The station was founded by James Poole, S.J. While serving at the Jesuit mission in the village of St. Mary's in 1959, Poole created a makeshift "radio station" by wiring 30 homes with speakers linked to the public address system. He was reassigned to Nome in 1966, with fundraising for the station beginning in December of that year. A young broadcast engineer named Tom Busch moved to Nome in 1970, becoming the chief engineer and eventually the station's general manager (a position he would hold for more than 30 years). After several years of work by volunteers and fundraisers who gathered the money for the equipment, filled out the paperwork with Federal Communications Commission, built the station, and assembled its original broadcasting equipment, KNOM first went on the air on July 14, 1971.

Poole left KNOM and Alaska in 1988 when he was reassigned to work in Tacoma, Washington. (The station's own newsletter suggests he was involved with fundraising[2] into the late 1990s.) In 2004 the first of what would become dozens[3] of allegations began to emerge of Poole's sexual abuse[4] of Alaska Native women during his time in rural Alaska from the 1960s through the 1980s.

By April 2005 Busch became development director and part-time engineer. Longtime program director and former volunteer Ric Schmidt became general manager. Tom was a past two-term president of the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Busch died on his 63rd birthday in November 2010 at his home in Anchorage, Alaska.

After the Diocese of Fairbanks declared bankruptcy in February 2008, Busch (until his passing) and Schmidt worked toward incorporating the radio station as a non-profit entity independent of the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska. In March 2012 the 501(c)3 "KNOM Radio Mission, Inc." assumed ownership and operation of the radio station.

The station has operated for decades with "full-time volunteers" who move to Nome and support the station in various ways for a year of service. In recent years those volunteers have lived in a "volunteer house" next door to the station building. In addition to healthcare coverage, volunteers are given a small monthly stipend for personal use and split a monthly stipend for food, utilities, and other bills. Upon completing one year of service, volunteers are given an education stipend and a small relocation bonus. Volunteers have the option to re-apply for a second year.

Currently KNOM is staffed by six full-time and one part-time paid staff and as many as five full-time and eight part-time volunteers. People who are interested in public service, or professional broadcast training (especially college-age students and senior citizens), are encouraged to apply.

Awards and recognitions

KNOM has won several awards for community service from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). It received the Crystal Service award in 1987, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2012. In 2013 it became the fourth radio station in the United States to receive the Crystal Heritage Award.


  1. "Alaska Press Club".
  2. KNOM Radio Mission, Inc. "KNOM Static Newsletter, Transmission 381 (Feb. 1998)". Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  3. "Bishop Accountability page for James Poole".
  4. Hopfinger, Tony (January 13, 2008). "Sex Abuse in Alaska Church". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 August 2017.

Coordinates: 64°29′16″N 165°17′58″W / 64.48778°N 165.29944°W / 64.48778; -165.29944

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