Radio Days

 I spent yesterday afternoon at community radio station KHNS pitching for the annual fundraiser. The goal this year is 55,000 and we reached somewhere around 40,000 during the show (math is not my strength) and had  a lot fun talking about the radio and the community and all the ways we are linked. As for me, I would probably not be writing to you had it not been for KHNS. I worked there back in the 80s, as a country show host and later as the morning show host. When I left to have my third child (that would be Christian in 1989), I was asked by the then news director, my friend Steve, to write slice-of-life commentaries every other week for the Friday night and Monday morning local news. Those stories, pretty much the same kind I still tell, were picked up by the Alaska Public Radio Network, and later Monitor Radio (the broadcast service of the Christian Science Monitor) and eventually NPR, (by then I was writing an Anchorage Daily News column and the Duly Noted column and obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News, too.) An editor at Algonquin Books heard me on the radio and called me up and asked if I'd like to write a book, and I said yes, and so in 2005 Algonquin published my first book  If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. That April, just before the book came out, I had just finished a volunteer shift at KHNS when I was hit by a truck while riding my bike. The recovery was long and hard, and when you've been down and out for a while it is sometimes difficult to see everyone again. It tends to involve a lot of tears and stories you'd rather not tell. Then, I remember just wanting my normal life back. I wished I could jump right back in time over the accident and recovery and land (and begin again) where I was before it happened. KHNS helped with that, too. Before I was out and about in any other way, I volunteered for the country show. Playing songs that explained how I felt like Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Feel Lucky" or Merle Haggard's "That's the Way Love Goes" helped. It was easier somehow to thank people and talk normally when I couldn't see faces. Also, when people heard me, they knew I must be feeling better, so when I saw them at the store or library we could skip the "how are yous?" I answered that question on the radio airwaves with a song that I started each show with that season, I forget now who sings it, but it was called "I'm Alright" and included the words, "I'm a little banged up from the fall...but I'm alright," which made me laugh because it was one of those country love-gone-bad songs, but taken literally the lyrics fit my situation perfectly. All of which is a long way of saying that I had fun yesterday raising money for the radio station. I'm glad it is still here. Since today is also my 52nd birthday I am even more grateful than usual for being in this place at this time, and for all the community support that helped me get back on my feet. So now, I think I'll weed and water the garden, listen to the radio, and count my blessings. It's easier to do than adding up pledge amounts, since all I have to do is acknowledge them all, and leave the grand totaling up to God. I do know that everything I really need is right here in my own backyard.

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