As we are just into the first week of our new year – 2017 – I guess it is only natural to do some reflecting and reminiscing. While not someone who enjoys dwelling in the past I must admit there are times I find it both entertaining and enlightening. Yes, I know this runs counter to the concept I regularly espouse regarding living in the ‘now’ but then human beings are not perfect and I am true to my ‘breed’ in this respect! As an aging male I can look back across my life and see so many stupid moves, self-destructive drives, wasted time and more than a few ‘what if’ situations; this is typical of most human beings. But there are also a relative few moments of inspiration, creativity, extraordinary love and epiphany. One thing that is common to all of the aforementioned is change.
Such a recent example of change occurred on December 28, 2016 when – after a day and night of extensive reflection and consideration – I elected to severe my ties with KTNA in terms of support and volunteering. As most of you know I truly loved doing live radio so this was hardly an easy or straightforward decision. Indeed, after cementing the decision I’ve experienced many hours of self-doubt and rigorous introspection. Yet it has now been eight days and despite all the above and my own bent to question my ulterior motives when having made such a weighty decision I remain convinced it was the right choice. I continue on an emotional roller-coaster regarding the KTNA situation; that’s exacerbated by last Wednesday being the first time I’ve missed my music shows. Volunteering has become a lynch-pin in my daily existence; I went for three months without doing so back in August of 2013 but I had just relocated up here and I had a ton on my plate so I didn’t miss it; prior to that you’d have to go back to March of 2010 to find me not involved in volunteering. So basically I went seven years with at least one volunteering stint in my life and it has been almost three years since I’ve been handling two volunteering efforts coincidentally. I’m going to remain open to what volunteering possibilities exist but I’m not going to rush into decisions. I know I will add another volunteering effort again with some function in this area; I get far too much out of volunteering to walk away from the function.
I knew this would be an impactful decision but knowing this to be the case ‘intellectually’ doesn’t mean one is prepared for the emotional and spiritual impacts. I thought about my decision across the past week almost constantly and it has intruded upon my dreams during those nights. It really has been a tough time but then I knew I wasn’t going to break a three year relationship, which included me being named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for 2015, without some grief and pain. And, as expected, I’m second guessing my decision even though I know it was the right one. The GM called me the day I resigned but I answered via email and have kept that as our means of communication. She did make a couple of halting attempts to get me to reconsider but I also believe a lot of her impetus is based on the fact the Saturday Evening Announcement program (I did this in addition to my two hours of music on Wednesday afternoons) is extremely difficult to cover. You need someone who is reliable, a year round resident, willing to give up part of their Saturday evening and able to handle the broadcast and any potential issues with no additional help onsite. Such a volunteer is indeed tough to find as sadly it is the first requirement that is often not present in potential volunteers. I harbor more than a bit of guilt about deserting my listeners; I just hope they understand my motives.
My impetus to give up my live radio ‘career’ stemmed from an ideological break with NPR in general and KTNA in particular. As such, it was based on ‘principles’ and often such decisions are the toughest to resolve and then put into place. I was never completely comfortable volunteering at a NPR outlet because I do not believe any form of mass communication should be funded – even partially – by the government which really means by the people. And, to me, NPR has a decided liberal lean which is something I do not share. But I also recognized what the station did, and does do, for the local communities in terms of reporting on dangerous situations, weather, local events and local news. When I was volunteering and supporting KTNA it was these functions I really backed. All the other radio stations in this general area pretty much end their coverage in Wasilla and that’s 60 miles south. With the current crisis in Alaska’s budget and across the board financial cuts KTNA is going through changes. Most of the former staff were either riffed (reduction in force) or retired. One of the latter was the GM; his replacement came on-board a few months back. Since that time I’ve seen more and more movements to the left in the station; it was this perception and a confrontation with the GM regarding some requirements I had been bending that finally caused me to completely re-evaluate myself with respect to supporting KTNA. In hindsight this was probably the infamous ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.
So I’m now beginning 2017 with a major change in my life and it has not been one which I welcomed. However, in trying to always find that silver lining in every dark cloud I’m working to remain open to any positives. And, to this point, I’ve found a few. I dedicated at least 3.5 hours a week to KTNA related efforts; I now have that time to devote towards improving my blogging and/or finally starting to write a book among other potentials. And the $25/month I was donating will now be ‘fleshed out’ with an additional $15/month and split between supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the ASPCA. Finally, this huge shift in my lifestyle has opened up the possibility of additional volunteering in this area. I never imagined I would make such a decision but then maybe it was time to move on..? I gave KTNA three years of service and support; they allowed me to discover how much I enjoyed live radio and embrace this love. For me, that’s a very equitable exchange…
And so it is I find myself moving on with my life while continuing to collect learnings and working to discover new opportunities. In my case three years of volunteering and supporting KTNA finally culminated in a major shift in my life. I’m trying to remember that all change is beneficial and positive energy can arise from even negative situations; I need ‘only’ remain receptive to such energy. So once again I’ve re-espoused that ‘time is the forge upon which change is fashioned’!