Local pastor experiments with short range radio in Klukwan

The village of Klukwan is populated mostly by Alaska Natives of the Tlingit tribe, and has fewer than 100 residents. It sits along the Chilkat River in Southeast Alaska.
The village of Klukwan has fewer than 100 residents and sits along the Chilkat River. (Elissa Nadworny/NPR)

A new community radio station is being developed in Klukwan. The village’s local pastor recently acquired a short range radio transmitter for the community. Klukwan residents can pick up the signal by tuning in to 107.7 FM.

Pastor Jami Campbell said community radio is a new endeavor for her.

She was inspired by another pastor, who purchased a transmitter to host drive-in movies in Petersburg last spring. Residents pulled up to the church parking lot to watch films projected on a screen while listening to the sound of the movie through their radios, in their cars.

Pastor Jami Campbell broadcasts from the Klukwan Assembly of God. (Photo courtesy of Jami Campbell)

“I realized how simple and easy it could be to have a radio broadcast just anything,” Campbell said. “So I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea!’ It opens up so many ways to connect people, even at a distance.”

Campbell decided to purchase her own short range radio transmitter. As pastor of the Klukwan Assembly of God, she already had access to microphones, cables and other audio equipment.

The church is centrally located, so the entire community lies within the mile-wide broadcast range.

“If you’re in your car, you can just pick up the radio station as you drive into town,” Campbell said. “And then the last houses on the other side can pick it up.”

Campbell said she and her husband have already broadcasted a few church services, and they hope the community will use the radio for various purposes.

Campbell has been working with Klukwan’s COVID-19 task force and offered up the radio transmitter as an emergency communication resource. She said she hopes residents will use it to share their music and stories with one another.

“Spoken word, story, song — all of those things have tangible value here, and so I’m hoping that this can be a way for the community to extend who they already are,” Campbell said.

The Chilkat Indian Village purchased 55 solar-powered, portable radios for the community. Those will be distributed to households in the next few days. In the meantime, Campbell is looking for people who are interested in hosting shows and making content.