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CityNome, Alaska
Broadcast areaWestern Alaska
Frequency780 kHz
96.1 MHz
SloganYours for Western Alaska
FormatNews, Regional, Country, Pop, Inspirational
AffiliationsWestwood One
OwnerKNOM Radio Mission, Inc.
First air date
July 14, 1971 (1971-07-14)
Call sign meaning
Technical information
PowerAM: 25,000 watts day
14,000 watts night
ERPFM: 1,000 watts
HAAT-42 meters

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 idea for the station came from 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.

In 1970 Tom Busch, a young broadcast engineer, moved to Nome, becoming the chief engineer and eventually the station's general manager. After several years of work, Busch and a large team of volunteers gathered the money for the equipment, filled out paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission, built the station, and assembled its original broadcasting equipment. KNOM first went on the air on July 14, 1971. Busch was the general manager of KNOM for more than 30 years.

Poole left KNOM and Alaska in 1988 when he was reassigned to work in Tacoma, Washington. (Although not involved with the mission at that point, his name was used to thank donors[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. Tom Busch personally mailed every person who had donated to the station, explaining that the allegations were true, and detailing the steps the station would make.[5] For several years after, the station actively aired spots aimed at helping victims of sexual abuse.[5]

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 2010 the station emerged as a 501(c)3, under the name "KNOM Radio Mission, Inc.".

In 2019, after an article from the Center of Investigative Reporting described Poole being allowed to retire at the Gonzaga campus after his abuse became publicly known,[6] KNOM's Board of Directors published a statement where they again renounce all of Poole's actions and commit to transparently carrying on with the mission of bringing news, inspiration, and encouragement to Western Alaska.[5]

Current operations[edit]

KNOM is able to operate from the dedication of full-time volunteers who move to Nome and support the station in various ways as part of 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 also have the option to re-apply for a second year.

Currently, KNOM is staffed by a combination of paid staff and 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[edit]

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. The station has also won 19 Gabriel awards, as well as honors from the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals (CACAP), the Alaska Broadcasters Association (ABA), and other organizations.

KNOM has also received recognition from the State of Alaska, the City of Nome, and the Alaska National Guard.


  • Renner, Louis L. (1985). The KNOM/Father Jim Poole Story. Portland, Oregon: Binford & Mort. ISBN 0832304441.
  • Roscoe, John (January 2004). "KNOM: Award-winning Catholic Radio Station". St. Anthony Messenger. Cincinnati, Ohio: Franciscan Media.
  1. ^ "Alaska Press Club". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  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.
  5. ^ a b c "A Statement from the KNOM Radio Mission Board of Directors on the Offenses of Fr. James Poole". KNOM Radio Mission. 2018-12-21. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  6. ^ "Jesuits sent abusive priests to retire on Gonzaga's campus | The Spokesman-Review". Retrieved 2019-01-30.

External links[edit]

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