Bethlehem Covenant Church to host Alaska Salmon Dinner fundraiser

Fresh Alaska Silver Salmon caught off shore in Nome, Alaska, is the featured entrée for a Fundraising Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at Bethlehem Covenant Church (3141 43rd Ave. S., Minneapolis 55406). Providing the salmon and the after-dinner presentation will be Dennis Weidler, general manager of KICY AM & FM of Nome.

Fundraising for the operation of the 50,000 watt AM station and 1,000 watt FM station brings Weidler to Minneapolis. Both stations are owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and are staffed by volunteers. Some are long-term missionaries and the rest live and work in the community of Nome, a largely Inupiaq Eskimo community of 3,700 on the southern coast of the Seward Peninsula.

KICY AM-850, which celebrated 50 years of service on April 17, 2010, is the only radio station in the United States licensed by both the F.C.C and the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland, to broadcast into a foreign country in their language. Every evening from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., the station turns their 50,000 watt signal westward and broadcasts into the Russian Far East in the Russian language.

The Russian Program Director, Luda Kinok, listened to KICY as a young girl growing up in the Chukotkan village of Sereniki. After eight years in Nome, Luda has returned to Chukotka but still provides 5 hours of Russian programming every evening via the Internet.

“It is amazing we have this kind of unique international license. Nome is only about 160 miles from the Russian mainland,” added Weidler. “When the full power of this station is turned to the west, it is equal to 200,000 watts. We have a signal from 1,500 to 3,000 miles into Russia every day.”

Most of the fundraising efforts are to offset rapidly escalating fuel costs. In Nome, a gallon of heating oil or diesel fuel costs $6.25 per gallon and is delivered by barge from the lower 48 states. All electricity is produced by diesel generators as the nearest power grid is 550 miles away, and there are no roads connecting any of the Bush Villages. In addition, no fuel can be delivered from October through May as the harbor is frozen to a depth of 4 feet. Prices are literally “frozen” for a full eight months.

For additional information, contact: J. Dennis Weidler by phone at 1-800-478-5429.