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KUCB Says Goodbye To Reporter Zoë Sobel

Berett Wilber/KUCB


It's a time of transition at Unalaska Community Broadcasting.

Reporter Zoë Sobel is leaving KUCB's newsroom Friday after more than three years with the radio station.

KUCB's Laura Kraegel asked Sobel what's next for her as a fellow in the Luce Scholars Program, which connects Americans with work experience in Asia.


ZOË SOBEL: This month, I'm moving to Nepal, where I'm going to be spending 13 months. It's part of a larger fellowship. I'll spend the summer studying language, and then in September, I will start working at an English-language publication called the Record, which does news. Not as much short, breaking news, but longer features. They're hoping I can work with them to develop some sort of podcast.

LAURA KRAEGEL: That sounds like a really amazing opportunity. Congratulations, Zoë.

SOBEL: Yeah. It should be very hot. [laughs]

KRAEGEL: Well, I wish you the best with the Nepali heat — and I look forward to learning more about Nepal by reading your stories and following all your work from Unalaska. You will be leaving the island, though, after almost three and a half years here. How are you feeling as you approach your departure?

SOBEL: Moving to Unalaska was a lot easier than leaving Unalaska because everybody is so welcoming. You put down a lot of roots, so it's very hard to disentangle and pack up your life. It's not just moving physical things, but it's also saying goodbye to friends and people and places that I don't know when I'm going to see again. I definitely fully intend to come back. I coached junior high basketball, and there are some people I know who are in high school and graduating next year. I really wanted to be there for their graduation in the spring, and I know — because I'm leaving for this fellowship — I can't do that. So I'll hopefully be able to come back and see people that I care about a lot and see this place that's so beautiful — and hopefully, get to come and spend another summer in Alaska.

LAK: I'm very glad to hear you're planning to visit. But before I let you go and enjoy these last few days on the island, is there anything else that you'd want to say to the community now? I know a lot of folks have gotten used to hearing your voice on the airwaves and seeing you around town.

SOBEL: Unalaska has just been so wonderful and welcoming. I really enjoyed getting to know different parts of the community through things as simple as going to the community center and playing soccer. I was not very good at soccer — I'm still not very good at soccer — but people were really nice and let me play soccer, and now I like soccer. We have a new reporter who's going to be coming in and starting next month, and I hope the community will be patient with her when she's learning like I was — and just continue to support KUCB and all the people who come here, because we're really doing our best to serve the community and tell your stories. Oh! And come see me before I leave at the premiere of our documentary, which is what I've spent a lot of my last year and a half here working on, along with the other people at the station. We have a 20-odd-minute documentary focusing on the history of the Aleutians, specifically the lost villages: Kashega, Biorka, Makushin, and Attu. I think, for all of us living here, it's really important that we know their legacy and what they mean today. So come to the documentary screening. Come see me there — even if you don't want to see the film, that's okay. But really, come see the film. And then I'll also be at the opening of the accompanying exhibition at the Museum of the Aleutians, called "Chiilulix."

Please join us for this week’s events commemorating the Lost Villages Project. All community members are invited.

Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m. — Premiere of KUCB's documentary, "Tanadgusim Adan Chiilulix: Revisiting the Lost Villages of the Aleutian Islands." The free event starts with a reception at the Grand Aleutian Hotel's Shishaldin Room, followed by the film screening.

Friday, June 14 at 2 p.m. — Storytelling luncheon featuring Unangax̂ evacuees and descendants who participated in the Lost Villages Project. Organized by the National Park Service and KUCB, the free event runs from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Father Ishmail Gromoff Senior Center.

Friday, June 14 at 6 p.m. — Opening of the Museum of the Aleutians' exhibition, "Chiilulix: The Long Journey Home." The free event starts at 6 p.m. for museum and KUCB members, with an exhibit preview and a potluck of traditional Unangax̂ foods. The show will open to the wider public at 6:30 p.m.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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