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Finding a Home Port

by Don Kohler

Josh Krohn

Josh Krohn. photo by Stephanie Mandregan

Josh Krohn settles in behind the microphone each day, entertaining the devoted audience of radio station KUHB in St. Paul, Alaska, with music, weather reports, news and a call-in show. After years of drifting and trying to find his calling in life, the 26-year-old UNO graduate finally has his feet firmly planted in a career and place he enjoys.

At least for now.

"The thing is, I have always had an idea what I wanted to do in life, but I just wanted to do everything," he says. "I feel very good about what I am doing right now. I am providing a very valuable service to our community and having fun doing it."

Fairly conservative comments for the self-proclaimed "lounger" once known by the on-air handle "Woodstock."

Whether the task is fixing automobiles, installing stereo equipment or swinging a carpenter's hammer all jobs he proudly lists on his resume Krohn takes his work seriously. "I still do a lot of work in those fields today," he says. "I had a lot of different career interests when I was growing up, and I took them all seriously."

Krohn's interest in radio began at an early age. His parents, Ron and Martie Krohn, moved to Homer, Alaska, from Omaha when he was 5 after his mother accepted a teaching position. Krohn graduated from high school in a home-school curriculum program and, at just 18 years old, went on to earn an associate's degree in technical theater from the University of Alaska, Kachemak Bay Branch (1997). He followed that with an auto mechanic certificate from the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward, Alaska (1999).

He also found time for "my share of traveling and lounging."

Indeed. Krohn has visited nearly every state, Canada, Mexico (several times) and Japan (as an exchange student in 1995). He also made a trip to Nepal with his father, a hydroelectric engineer.

His interest in the airwaves began after high school when he started hanging out at the public radio station in Homer, volunteering his time in studio to help produce shows and fill in where needed. "I was really just tagging along to see how things worked," he says. "Homer is a very friendly community, so I was able to get in there and get some hands-on experience with a National Public Radio (NPR) station before ever incurring any college expense."

Looking to "bail out of the Alaska scene for a while," Krohn moved back to the Midwest in the summer of 2000 and began taking classes at UNO. He was accepted into the engineering program and had his sights set on a degree in mechanical engineering.

"After my second failed attempt at calculus, I had to bail out of that," he says. "I spent a couple of semesters drifting, and then I kind of latched on to the communications department at UNO. It had always been a lifelong aspiration of mine to be able support myself in a career, and I thought if I started my own music recording company I could do that. The closest career program to that was broadcasting, so I got busy learning the field."

Krohn volunteered to help the student-run Maverick Radio and in his second year of studies was offered the station manager's post. Along with studio work, Krohn was hosting radio board meetings, overseeing staff and coordinating volunteers. He eventually earned a bachelor's degree in general studies in May 2004.

"Earning my degree pretty much helped launch this current chapter of my radio career," he says.

It began when Krohn returned to Alaska to serve as station manager for KUHB in St. Paul. His mother still was teaching in Homer and learned of the position while reading the statewide school bulletin. KUHB, which advertises itself as the westernmost radio station in the United States, is an NPR station owned by the Pribilof Islands School District. St. Paul is located 300 miles off the west coast in the middle of the Bering Sea. "This is pretty much rural Alaska," Josh says. "We are the only station here, so there are not a lot of options. We are the key source for any kind of communication to the residents of this area."

As station manager, Krohn oversees daily operations and staffing and is charged with leading the station's strategic planning efforts. "We are always looking into new ways to stay on the forefront of technology," he says. The station received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to create its first Web site (http://www.kuhb.org/) and, under Krohn's guidance, was able to launch the site in just six months. Krohn also is coordinating the station's upgrade to high-definition radio.

"It has been a lot of fun getting the Web to function," Krohn says. "Every time I dig into the Web I find more ways to make the site more informative, which is a huge benefit to our listeners."

Krohn says he is looking forward to his next challenge in the radio industry. "I would like to move into a larger market one day," he says. "I would like to manage a station that is ready to develop and grow in terms of the Web and HD, just like this station.

"Eventually . . . my own record label would be pretty cool. I've got a ways to go before then, and a lot more skills to learn. I've not forgotten that dream."

Don Kohler is a contributor to The Alum, the quarterly magazine of the UNO Alumni Association. He can be reached at dkohler@iwcc.cc.ia.us.

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