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This year (2022) KBIA celebrates its 50th anniversary - the station first went on air in May 1972.To mark that milestone our reporting team reached out to alums across the country and in a wide range of media. We spoke with them about the work of journalism and their memories of KBIA.The 50 Project was made possible through the support of our sponsors, long-term KBIA listeners David Black and Lee Wilkins.

KBIA alum Erin McKinstry freelances in rural Alaska

Erin McKinstry is outdoors and smiles at the camera. McKinstry has dark hair and bangs and wears a green sweater and a pendant necklace. The backdrop contains snow and evergreen foliage.
Ian Gyori
Erin McKinstry

Erin McKinstry is a freelance journalist in rural Alaska. Her work has been featured by platforms such as Alaska Public Media and the PBS Newshour. She also hosts and produces the Out Here podcast.

McKinstry received her Masters in Journalism in 2018. She spoke with KBIA producer Logan Franz.

Logan Franz:
Is there anything that jumps out to you as, like, a favorite story you've worked on or anything like that?

Erin McKinstry:
A couple of years ago, I did a story about a woman who is growing things in the Arctic, and is really interested in like starting an agricultural movement in her community.

And she's native, and she's connecting her gardening and her farming back to her indigenous roots and incorporating like, plants that, you know, have been traditionally used by her community and sort of just like reinventing a new way and a new model.

Logan Franz:
What do you, kind of, value the most in your coverage?

Erin McKinstry:
I love stories that, you know, that aren't just the talking heads, but that show the real impact of a problem or real impact of solutions, and that really feature prominently the people who are being impacted by the issue at hand.

I find that really important to get on the ground and try to talk to those people, even if it's challenging. Especially during the pandemic, oh my gosh, especially challenging during the pandemic. I think it's really important to tell stories that no one else is telling. I am usually drawn toward those stories.

Logan Franz:
Can you just kind of talk about that maybe some challenges or some benefits you seen, being a journalist in kind of a more rural community?

Erin McKinstry:
Especially in a place like Alaska, it's like, people are just so creative and resourceful, and they make things work, even when it's really challenging. And so meeting more of those people, again, it's just kind of inspiring for me personally, as well.

Every place you go is so different. And traveling to some of the really remote places is a humbling experience.

The story that I just did, where we went to the northwest Arctic is like I had to take two planes and drive eight hours and there was crazy weather and like, you never know what's gonna happen. And then you get there. And you don't really know... you've talked to people on the phone, but you don't really know what the experience is going to be like until you're there.

But it's just so, it's so wonderful. Because I feel like you're so close to the people that you're reporting on. And maybe that's a challenge too.

When you're reporting in such a small community, you're also part of that community. So distancing yourself from the story can be kind of challenging and being objective—whatever that word means—but as objective as you can be.

Rural areas get overlooked. Maybe people don't think about them as much or think that the events that happen there are as important. So just sort of, like, shouting a little bit more loudly to try to make people pay attention.

The 50 Project was made possible through the support of our sponsors, long-term KBIA listeners David Black and Lee Wilkins.

Logan Franz is a student producer from Chicago studying broadcast sports journalism with a minor in English at Mizzou. His passion for radio came from listening to podcasts and he hopes to one day produce his own podcast.
Caoilinn left KBIA in December of 2022.
Caoilinn Goss is the Audio Convergence Editor at KBIA. She trains and oversees student reporters, editors and anchors to produce daily afternoon newscasts. She's also a Missouri Journalism School alum.