FAIRBANKS - He had only been here once before, but six years ago, Brian Blair felt a calling to move north.
The Ohio native had 25 years of experience in radio before he moved to KIAM, a Christian station that reaches large portions of the state.
"I was doing some traveling and what surprised me is that in Ohio there are several Christian radio stations, but if you go north to the Upper Peninsula or Vermont, that's not the case," he said. "I felt the desire to get involved in a place where they're not so much competing, but a station really meant something."
So Blair, with his wife and their four children, came to Nenana to work at KIAM, the oldest of three stations owned by Voice For Christ Ministries.
Radio has been a natural fit for Blair, who has been blind since birth. Because he is blind, he said he never enjoyed television that much and usually turned to radio for entertainment.
What really influenced him to devote his life to Christ was a program he heard in his junior year of high school about a man on his deathbed who asked for forgiveness for all of his sins, and was promised eternal life because he gave his life to the Lord.
"Because of that and other programs, I realized I needed to ask the Lord to save me," he said. "I wanted to do things to please Him."
Blair was originally a psychology major at the Baptist Cedarville University in Ohio, but quickly found that he enjoyed radio more. He worked a variety of jobs at a station in Cedarville for 25 years before coming to Nenana.
Blair uses a variety of computer software to "see" things he cannot. A program called Jaws for Windows uses a voice synthesizer to help him read e-mails, play music and edit audio files.
He uses a Braille printer to print things he needs to read on the air, and he has a machine that can read most faxes for him - as long as they're not handwritten.
KIAM has been reaching out to the Nenana area with its blend of Christian music and Bible teaching since 1985, and through the use of "translators," or radio repeaters, the station is able to reach 17 villages in the state as far out as the Aleutians.
Through the translators, the station is able to offer "mukluk messages," a free service for listeners to transmit individual messages to each other through a show host. Around Christmas, the station can receive as many as 15 mukluk messages, which are played three times per day.
In the future, Blair said, he would like to add more programming specifically targeted at Native audiences.
"It's a matter of resources right now," said Blair, who runs the station with a handful of volunteers. "We're stretched kind of thin."
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