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Rhonda McBride

By Rhonda McBride 1:04 AM January 20, 2014

Rural Affairs Editor

Alaska truly is the Last Frontier of great storytelling. Although I’ve been a reporter in Alaska since 1988, my “to do” list of stories is ever a work in progress.

Whether it’s finding ways around the extreme weather or geographical challenges, or creative applications of new technology or ancient traditions, Alaskans are always pushing into new frontiers – and the opportunity to bring that story to you in all of its different incarnations is both an honor and privilege.

I guess I’ll always think of myself as a “Bushrat Journo.” Bushrat is a term popularized by the late Governor Jay Hammond. It was his way of saying that even though he lived in the city, his heart was in the Bush.

For me, it speaks to my roots at KYUK, the public radio and TV station in Bethel that broadcasts in both English and Yup’ik, the predominant Native language in Southwest Alaska. I was news director there for almost 10 years and was lucky to have worked alongside some pioneering Alaska Native journalists and storytellers, who shared their culture and subsistence lifestyle with me. From walrus meat, to salmon strips, to mouse food, I’ve had an authentic taste of life in Rural Alaska.

And no matter what job I’ve had, whether it was a producer for the Alaska Public Radio Network, a reporter at KTUU, or a one-year stint as Governor Sarah Palin’s Rural Advisor, this intimate knowledge of life in Rural Alaska has helped me find success. I’m proud to have been recognized three times by the Society of Professional Journalists as a Sigma Delta Chi winner, one of SPJ’s highest honors, for my coverage of rural voting patterns, fetal alcohol syndrome and climate change.

One of the jobs I enjoyed the most was hosting public affairs programs for KAKM-Channel 7, the public television station in Anchorage. I look forward to doing the same for KTVA and Denali Media, to help our audience come to grips with some of rural Alaska’s most pressing issues in both a talk-show format and in special reports. Denali Media’s vision and commitment to bring more in-depth statewide coverage convinces me that the best in Alaska journalism is yet to come.

As a Bushrat reporter, I never feel guilty about my arctic entry being cluttered with shoes and muddy boots. I swear, after all these years, the dust and grit of Bethel is still in my car. We bought it when my son was born, and now he’s grown into a young man.

He and his father have put up with my passion for story telling as long as they can remember, just as I’ve put up with their passion for music. Well, actually, I enjoy it and have tried to join them by strumming on a ukulele or a stand-up bass. Let’s just say I’m a better appreciator of music than I am a player, and there’s no danger of giving up my day job.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep working here at KTVA to bring you those stories with “ah, hah” moments. One thing is true about being a reporter in Alaska. The more you know, sometimes the less you know. That makes every day a new frontier.

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