Sirius Radio, Tundra Telegraph and Corporate Drones in Alaska

In my Toyota Tundra I have the radio of all radios. It has options for HD Radio, CDs, a Navigation and hands-free Bluetooth setup, an iPod link, plays videos (not when driving), FM and AM and also Sirius Satellite Radio.

I have been a Sirius subscriber for more than four years. It was one of those Christmas gifts that I bought for my wife but really for me. You know you have done it too. Admit it.

Anyhow, when I moved up here to Alaska I was excited that I would be able to listen to my favorite Sirius channels: Hair Nation, NFL Radio, Octane and more on my two-hour treks to Anchorage once a week or so but it did not work! You would hear about 10 seconds and then it would immediately say: “Acquiring Signal”.

In January (2011) a news report was released by the (Fairbanks) NewsMiner that said that it appears that we would be getting satellite radio up here in the North. This report comes just a month after the Federal Communications Commission approved plans to use terrestrial repeaters for us to receive service.

Well, it is April and still no non-stop, commercial free Hair Bands!

Why? Because the broadcasters and other lobby groups here in Alaska do not want it to happen.

The folks at Sirius said that the Alaska Broadcasters had objected to its plans (for terrestrial repeaters) because they did not want competition in any form. The Alaska Broadcasters said satellite radio would harm “localism” and that Sirius should buy AM or FM stations instead of being allowed to use repeaters to deliver the signal, as opposed to satellite delivery.

Wait a minute! I know that things are done different in Alaska. But this is America. As Americans we want, no we demand, choices. That is why we have 300 channels on Direct TV that nobody watches but they are still on.

Think about it: When was the last time you watched a full night of Oprah’s new network OWN on a Friday night?

I use an app on my iPhone called Into_Now that allows you to share what you are watching on T.V. on social media. Guess what folks. The most watched shows are the network ones like Hawaii Five-O and House and stuff like that.

I digress.

The Alaska Broadcasters’ argument is hogwash!

First, since I am forced to listen to the local classic rock station (full of static) on my drives to Anchorage I will not be the first to mention that they play national content on the weekends with DJ snippets placed creatively in a certain points. How do I know? Because I am such a geek I checked out other stations on an iPhone app called iHeart Radio and several stations around the U.S. were playing the EXACT same song at the EXACT same time with the same DJ breaks.

Now lets talk about sports. Again, I am not against the local guys having their own stations. I am against the argument that we cant have a choice.

On the local ESPN radio feed, AM 550 here in Alaska I have heard on numerous occasions where the Sunday Night and Monday Night Football games were preempted for something local.

Almost every Saturday night college football game was preempted for the college hockey game ( University of Alaska-Anchorage). I am a huge hockey fan and I have been a season ticket holder for the University of Denver for years and they play in the same league (WCHA) as the UofA Seawolves. But the Wolves are the bottom feeders of the league and have been for years. Why would they want to preempt the game of the week of college football on ESPN so that we can hear the Seawolves lose (Again!).

On the same station they carry the games for the Seattle Mariners. Why? We are a 1000 miles away from Seattle. Most of us would rather listen to Jim Rome not the Mariners.

Talk Radio is another one. I understand that Alaska is the home that Sarah built (at least in the present day) and it is a bit right-leaning. Hey we got Sarah’s side-kick, Sean Parnell as the Gov now. But with that all we have is right-wing talk radio. We have Sean Hannity and Dennis Miller and a few other corporate owned drones spewing their “philosophy” on the airwaves of this great state.

Again what about choice? All of us are not Reagan wanna-be’s. Some of us want to hear the other side on Sirius channels such as P.O.T.U.S. Politics, MSNC, Sirius Left and heck even CNN and maybe even World Radio Network.

So if their argument is taking away localism, maybe they should ask the people of Alaska what they want to listen to. With our economy much stronger than most of the Outside, hence more disposable income to burn–it seems to me that we would drool at the prospect of spending 20 bucks a month on…


I feel that competition in any business is a good thing and will improve radio in Alaska in the long run. It is time for Alaska to welcome the 21st century. The days of the Tundra Telegraph on the shortwave, could be so much more advanced if you just give it a chance.

What are your thoughts on this?


Robert Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Works Radio | Denver Dog Works | Daily Post


Robert Forto is a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and Dog Works Radio Shows