Many things in Alaska have stood the test of time. People, especially those who aren’t born here, don’t always make the cut.

Lauren Maxwell began her career with KTVA 11 News on this day 30 years ago. Back then, the whole town was younger, seedier and steeped in money.

“I’ve been lucky to have covered lots of things,” Maxwell said, while recounting travels abroad and to many parts of the 49th state. “It’s been an enduring thrill and happiness to meet and connect with people in the community.”

Though she has met two presidents, Rosa Parks and Dear Abby, Maxwell said her joy has been telling the extraordinary tales of ordinary people.

More than 16 years ago, Maxwell visited an Airport Heights third-grade classroom. Jared Smith, now grown, remembers the day fondly. His aunt, Monica Bouvier-Walker, worked (and still works) with Maxwell at KTVA.

Whether or not it was known to her, Maxwell — a morning reporter at the time — had won the hearts of many elementary students, Bouvier-Walker said. Especially the heart of young Jared Smith.

After filming wrapped up, the kids were allowed to go up and meet her.

“Well of course, my nephew was one of the ones at the front of the line. So, he got up there and … she wound up giving him a kiss on his left cheek,” Bouvier-Walker said.

She was at work, but as soon as Smith got home that day he called her.

“He was absolutely smitten with her. He didn’t wash his face for two weeks,” she said.

Even a third-grader, more than 16 years later, remembers the way Maxwell made him feel. It’s those lasting impressions that have cemented her in the minds and hearts of Alaskans.

“[It’s] her warmth and her personality,” Bouvier-Walker said. “It’s like she’s ageless and timeless. Someone in the community that everyone knows who she is — she’s touched people.”

The recipient of numerous professional and community service awards, Maxwell said she feels lucky, at times even a bit spoiled, to have a career she enjoys where she’s not stuck behind a desk.

 
Her journey to storytelling began when she moved to Alaska in 1982. She said she worked in the fishing industry, in bars and as a VISTA volunteer before landing a job in radio with her orotund voice and careful diction.

Maxwell said she “fell into reporting,” that her degree in anthropology and background were far different than her colleagues who viewed the station as a stepping stone to a larger market in a bigger city. But for her, the city was her anchor. The job, though something she’d come to love, was a way to represent the voice of the community.

“Keep your eyes, ears and heart open. Listen to people, don’t make judgments,” she said.

Though she doesn’t know exactly how many stories she’s covered during her 30-year career at KTVA, one story a day for five days a week equals a low estimate of 7,800. Some triumphs, others tragedies. But each of these nearly 8,000 stories have been approached without bias, chased with tenacity and told with inimitable character.

From all of us here at KTVA, congratulations Lauren.