Donate to KMXT


Support Public Radio

You can support public radio through underwriting and we can help you drive traffic to your place of business by reaching the educated, affluent and decidedly handsome KMXT listeners. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it today!

Station Blogs & Links

Are you a KMXT volunteer with a blog or website about your show? This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Copyright vEsti24
May 07 2015
Crafters Carve Kodiak History PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 May 2015
christiansen_and_mitch.jpgCJ Christiansen (right) and Mitch Keplinger discuss what to do next on their angyaq. (Photo by Kayla Desroches)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A group in Kodiak recently completed an Alutiiq boat that was commonly used on the island in the 19th century, but hasn’t been built on the island for many years. Alutiiq people once used the angyaq to travel over long distances and through rough seas. It’s an open boat, like a dory, with a flat bottom and bulbous bow.
The artist leading the effort says the boat builders aren’t just recreating the past. They’re reviving a piece of history for use now and in the future.

The boat’s 21-inch frame sits on supports in the back room of a former grocery store that’s now mostly used for storage.

CJ Christiansen, who has carved everything from masks to harpoons, says his interest in building the angyaq came from his desire to recover a piece of Alutiiq culture. He says angyaqs were a big part of Kodiak life.

“Anybody should be able to do this. It’s not that hard,” says Christiansen. “It just takes a lot of dedication and pride in what you’re doing. Making sure everything fits. It’s really just taking art to the next level, going from one small art form to something bigger.”

Christiansen says kayaks were the everyman boat, but angyaq were special to Alutiiq people.  

The flat bottom and rounded bow would have helped it float up strong waves.

“They had winter and summer habitations here,” says Christiansen. “So in the summer when they went to put up all their fish and all their food for winter supply, they would pack up the village in one of these boats and move it down to their summer habitation and then be able to bring back all the fish they put up and everything.”
Christiansen says villages took the boat hundreds of miles, from the mainland to Southeast, all around Kodiak and the Aleutians.

He says there are only a few sources that prove the angyaq’s existence, which makes building it a challenge. The group partially used the Yup’ik boat, the umiak, as a guide.

“Cause our people are related to the Yupik, we’d looked at their boat designs and had a book on how they were building their boats, and we kinda took their designs and modified them to what our boats looked like,” says Christiansen.
But they also used one of the last remnants of the angyaq – wooden models Russian settlers took back home with them.

The models not only provide physical representations of the boat, but also reveal who might have owned them. Christiansen believes one family may have been responsible for the boat.

“Let’s see, there’s this picture of the boat, so you got the guy up there with the drum, the guy steering, and these guys all paddling, and then you see this guy here, see his hat?” says Christiansen. “Each one of these little rings is how many potlucks he gave. So, you know, three potlucks, he was a rich man, so he probably owned the boat.”

Christiansen says he and the other crafters put about 300 hours into the frame, but he says he was reluctant to track their progress from beginning to end. He didn’t want to fail.

But he says trial and error is the key to building a boat that hasn’t been in circulation for so many years.

“We might not got it 100 percent right right now, but if more people start building ‘em and we start putting these in the water and taking them out and trying them, we’re gonna refine the design back to Russian time, pre-contact. They were probably still   refining it when they had contact,” says Christiansen.

Christiansen says he wants to make this a boat for Alutiiq people now, not just recreate a relic from the past.

“To be building one, it’s just an amazing journey for me to see this thing come to life. You know, I don’t want to be the only one who makes one of these. Ten years down the road, I want to see everyone building them,” says Christiansen.

He says he hopes people will even race angyaqs.

But first, they need to find a place for this one.  Alisha Drabek was the Executive Director at the Alutiiq Museum until her recent resignation. She says the museum will exhibit the boat in front of the Afognak Native Corporation building for its 20th anniversary, which will be on May 13 between 5 and 9 p.m. They'll then look for a permanent space. Drabek says she’s proud to be able to showcase the boat.

“They’re living the culture,” says Drabek. “They’re not doing this as part of a museum project. They’re doing it out of their hearts.”

Christiansen and his team are excited to see their work on display later this month. And eventually they hope to test out an anyaq in the waves around Kodiak.


Since this first aired on AK last Friday, May 1st, it has been brought to our attention that there have been several other angyaqs built in other areas, such as Prince William Sound. Professor Sven Haakanson from the Burke Museum in Seattle says this is the first full-sized model to be built by Alutiiq people on Kodiak Island.
May 06 2015
First Cruise Ship of Season Arrives in Kodiak PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 May 2015
russian_traditions_tour_pic.jpgA picture of tourists receiving food as part of the Russian Traditions tour in Kodiak. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Yesterday morning, the first cruise ship of the season docked in Kodiak and tourists flocked to the nearest attractions. Alaska draws tourists from all over the world with its scenery, its hikes, and its wildlife, but also with its media coverage.

When asked why they came, Margaret and Phil Sparks from the north of England said they wanted to see the Alaska from TV with their own eyes. They say there are a couple of shows that are especially popular.

“The program that everyone seems to see is Deadliest Catch,” says Margaret Sparks. “That’s the one that everyone sees at home and those and obviously there’s the ice-road truckers and all those different kinds of programs.

“I think everyone thinks it’s very snowy, cold, bleak - that’s the sort of impression that everyone gets, and everyone’s a fishermen, but then of course it’s the wildlife side of things. There’s the bears, the birds, and all the different sea life.”

Another tourist who had traveled from Florida with his wife says he spent a few years in Russia working abroad in the Foreign Service. John Tool says he is especially interested in the Russian occupation part of Alaska history.

“You hear about it, you read about it, and you say ‘well I’d like to see what I’ve been reading about.’ In other words, ‘I want to see for myself,” says Tool. “It’s [Kodiak] lightly populated and very large, and being from Texas originally, I can appreciate large.”

Visitors with an interest in Russian culture also had the chance to join the Russian Traditions tour and attend lunch at a Russian tea room at the Marian Center. Kodiak Tours organizer, Dee Ann Valdivia, says she hired caterer Sheri Ewing from Red Hot Cooking.

“She made borscht, piroshkis – kind of like little meat pastries – and Russian tea cakes,” says Valdivia.

Valdivia also booked the Balalaika Players for entertainment. After the lunch, Coleen Lincoln from Australia says she especially liked the farewell song the band performed.

“Oh, I thought it was lovely,” says Lincoln. “It nearly made me cry at the end, I wanted to take them home.”

Valdivia says she’s been doing the tours for about 20 years. And she’ll be doing one again this Saturday for the next cruise ship, which is scheduled to arrive at 10am.
May 05 2015
Class Trains Fishermen to be Drill Conductors PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Fishermen who want to be prepared for rough waters, maydays, and emergencies may want to take a two-day course in Kodiak.

Today and Wednesday, the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association will offer free classes to train commercial fishermen as Drill Conductors. This would allow skippers, owners, or crewmembers to conduct the Coast-Guard-required monthly emergency and safety drills aboard their vessels.    

AMSEA Office and Promotions Manager, Jeff Pearson, says it’s vital for drill conductors to have the hands-on experience the course would provide.

“You practice getting into your emergence suit within 60 seconds, you practice launching a life-raft, this class is going to have an in-the-water practice session, where the things that you’ll want to know in an actual emergency, you’re gonna have at least an opportunity to try it and to familiarize yourself with what it is you’re supposed to do,” says Pearson.

Pearson says the classes will meet at the UAF Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center and, on Wednesday, go from 8 A.M. to noon. Those who attend the course will get a Drill Conductor Card that shows the person has completed the USCG training requirements.

Go to www.amsea.org to learn more.
May 05 2015
New Name for Mack's Sport Shop PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
You know that nice new sign put up this winter outside Mack's Sport Shop on Mill Bay Road? They're going to have to change that. Mack's, along with Anchorage's Army-Navy Surplus stores, are taking the name of the third store in the group owned by the same family: Big Ray's.
1.45 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup


"We bought Mack's from Tom and Cheryl Merriman in 2008, we took over. And it's just been very complicated to manage three web pages and three marketing plans. And our customers get confused when they travel between the stores, so a few months ago we started thinking about just combing down into one brand,” said co-owner Monte Rostad. “And it just a made a lot of sense for a lot of good reasons."

Other than a new sign and how the phone is answered, Rostad says nothing's changed.

"We're still the same family-owned, same staff, same great team. The only thing that's changing is the name is the name of two buildings and one in Kodiak. And then, like I said, it allows us to focus on building one brand, and we're excited about that."

"It took a little bit of adjustment to get used to. Several of us here, the majority of our adult lives have answered the phone, 'Mack's Sports Shop,'” said Kodiak store manager Jesse Glamann said. But we all understand it's a decision and a direction that we have to go to grow the company."

Rostad joked that there was some talk of naming all the stores Big Mack's, but he said that was already taken. In any case, changing the long-standing names of stores that have been around for decades was not a decision he and the other owners took lightly.

"It's a very difficult decision to give up the Army Navy name and the Mack's name,” Rostad said. “Very emotional, because those names represent a lot of history, a lot of hard work and a lot of community support where they're located. So it was tough. We went through a lot of heartache and a lot of thought and that sort of thing, but realized it's the best thing to do."

And if you're wondering just who Big Ray is, he was a 6-foot 7-inch basketball player for the Alaska College of Agriculture and School of Mines in Fairbanks in the mid 1930s. That school is better known today as the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When he moved to Anchorage, Milan Raykovich - Big Ray to his friends - became a partner in the Army Navy Surplus Store. Upon returning to Fairbanks, the owners' group named their stores there after Raykovich. He sold his share in the company in 1961 and moved to Washington State, and passed away in 1989. 
May 05 2015
A Walk Through Kodiak's Notorious Bars PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015


1.22 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup


notorious-bars-of-alaska.jpgVandergraft's book, "A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska."

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

You might imagine the author of a book called “A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska” would have some stories about Kodiak's public houses - and you'd be right. Former Alaska resident Doug Vandegraft will be sharing some of those stories on a walking tour tonight.

Vandegraft says Kodiak bars have some interesting history. One stand-out is the Mecca. He says its founder ran a beer hall in a mining town, but when that community ran out of copper in the late 30s, he moved to Kodiak.

“Roy Snyder decided he wanted to have the finest cocktail bar in Kodiak and he spared no expense,” says Vandegraft. “He had all these fancy furnishings moved up here. Made a real palace. The hard part was, though, a man could not go in there unless he had a woman on his arm.

“In 1940, 41, 42, when all the men were moving in here in support for military build-up, it was hard for all those men to find a woman to go into the Mecca, but again, also, a really, really nice bar for the longest time.”

Vandegraft is in Kodiak publicizing “A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska” and is giving the walking tour tonight in partnership with the Baranov Museum. Though he lives outside Washington DC now, as a cartographer, he lived in Alaska for many years starting in 1983.

“Because of my job, I got sent around the state to a lot of different towns,” says Vandegraft. “It just seemed to be that there were a lot of bars that were not only unique, but had just a real staying power, that they were [the] same location, and the same name, the same building since prohibition ended in 1933. And you find a lot of those up here and not a lot of those in the lower 48 anymore.”

And because of that longevity, the marks patrons make on their bars tend to stick.

“They’ve scrawled their name into the table or they’ve taken a knife and there in the men’s bathroom, they’ve written their name and stuff like that. A lot of dollar bills on the ceiling or on the wall,” says Vandegraft. “You could say ‘Oh Doug, that happens in the lower 48 too.’ True, but that same graffiti and that same dollar bills aren’t there ten years from now, fifteen years from now, twenty years from now. They are in Alaska.”
You can hear more stories from the hallowed halls of Kodiak’s bars at Vandegraft’s “Notorious Bars of Kodiak” Walking Tour tonight. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Baranov Museum. Attendees should expect to drink, maybe eat, and definitely learn.

<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Next > End >>

Results 351 - 375 of 6000