by Kirstin Merkley ~ January 22nd, 2013
Talkeetna Community Radio, KTNA 88.9 FM, is celebrating its 20th anniversary year on the air. Every week, we’ll be airing archived sound, news stories, and bits of KTNA’s history from our first twenty years.
On January 17th, back in 1993, we first broadcast our FM signal from a tower near Scotty Lake in Trapper Creek…as we still do. In the early days, the air studio and a couple of desks for the one paid staff member and volunteer staff took up most of the space in the little log cabin with the green roof on Second Street. There was a big white satellite dish in front, and an outhouse in back.
After Talkeetna Community Radio incorporated in 1988, five years of grant-writing, fundraising, and hard work of all kinds followed. Finally, KTNA 88.5 FM was a reality. A radio station was a pretty big deal in this little town. Remember, this is before satellite TV and internet were available everywhere, and big, black “bag phones” were the only option to citizens’ band radios for communicating with people off the powerlines and phone lines. Fax machines were the latest thing in offices. The night before The Big Day, there was quite a snowstorm, and there were power outages, of course, making sign-on day a bit of a “now-I-hear-you -now-I-don’t” affair. But sometime in the morning on January 17th, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the log cabin station, and then everyone who had tuned in to 88.5 FM heard the Talkeetna Travelers performing “Turn Your Radio On” from the studio.
Here we are in 2013. Current KTNA staff decided to air an hour and a half of audio memories from the cassette recordings of the first day on air. For the next three days, you’ll hear a half hour of community voices and live music from that very first day….an “audio window” into the past. In this first segment, we hear the Talkeetna Travelers: Tom Waite, Marty Terstegge, Carl Besece, and Paul Hatfield. Project Manager Jim Sykes hosted the first day on the air, and many people stopped by and spoke to the listeners: Mat-Su Borough Assembly member and Talkeetna resident Dorothy Jones was there, along with Doyle Holmes, owner of Willow Hardware, Michael Vaughan, the guy with the engineering skills, Eleanor Leveroff, the station’s first manager, Laura Kardash, president of the KTNA Board of Directors, Emmila Spires, the secretary, and Mac White, principal of Su Valley High School.