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Laura Kraegel rejoins KUCB as interim reporter

Lauren Snyder

There’s a familiar voice back on KUCB’s airwaves.

Laura Kraegel covered local news for the station from 2016 until early 2020. Now, she’s back to help out as an interim reporter.

KUCB’s Sofia Stuart-Rasi sat down with Kraegel to ask about what she’ll be covering and how it feels being back in Unalaska.

Contact Laura Kraegel at


SOFIA STUART-RASI: First things first. When did you head off island? And what have you been up to since?

LAURA KRAEGEL: Well, I flew off-island on March 2, 2020, actually. So that was the week before the [COVID-19] pandemic was declared. And I had meant to do some traveling, but instead ended up hanging out with my folks outside of Chicago for quite a while. So that was good. But eventually, I did end up getting my master's degree as planned at Arizona State in Phoenix. And after graduating, I had a fellowship at WBUR, which is one of the public radio stations in Boston, helping out there on the local investigative reporting team, working with them on a number of stories. We covered things like gun ownership in Massachusetts. Other stories on the hot housing market there, and where homeowners' money actually goes when they pay for title insurance during closing costs. Some reporting, as well, on how big banks saw COVID as an opportunity to close a ton of branches, which affects folks — you know, access to their money and to other financial services. But anyway, that fellowship wrapped up at the end of 2020. And I really wanted to spend some time working back in local daily news, which I have always loved a lot and really believed in. And so I reached out to KUCB, to see if the station needed or wanted an extra set of hands for a few months. And they did. So I am here, and I'm really, really happy that it's working out.

STUART-RASI: How does it feel to be back? Has the island changed much?

KRAEGEL: It feels really good. I missed this community a lot over the last three years. So it's very good to be back. And I can definitely see changes, especially with the pandemic, but also just — you know, the passage of time. The improvements to internet speed are a very big deal with a lot of implications. The financial situations at the city, the school district, everywhere really — there were challenges when I left, and it seems like those challenges are still there, perhaps even more challenging than they were. There are new folks in a number of leadership positions around town. And I mean, I came in on a flight from Aleutian Airways, which did not even exist when I left. So there's that. I know I've got a lot to catch up on, a lot to learn about what's happened since I've been gone. But I think, that said, I hope I still have a good baseline knowledge, a good familiarity with the community. You know, there are a lot of familiar faces around town. A lot of issues that have always been — and I think will always be — really important to the people who live here. So I'm trying to get into the swing of things as quick as I can — you know, catch up on what I need to catch up on, but also hopefully hit the ground running, relatively speaking.

STUART-RASI: What exactly will you be doing while you while you're here? And how long will you be back?

KRAEGEL: So I started March 1, officially, but it was remote since I got stuck in Anchorage for a little bit. But I'll be on the job through late May. So it'll be about three months in total. I'm back on the news team, helping to cover local news, just like before. I'll be hosting the newscast sometimes — splitting those duties with you, Sofia. And then of course, anything else that comes up, as it always does in this town. But my focus will definitely be on Unalaska's local and daily news. It sounds like I'll be taking on a good chunk of our coverage of the city and the City Council. I went to my first meeting last week. So to all the folks at City Hall, I'll probably be calling you up and pestering you with questions if I haven't already. So thanks to you all for your help and work over the years, I'm excited to talk to you again. What else? I'm interested, as always, in how things are going with our police and fire departments, the nonprofits and other organizations that we all interact with around town, the Ounalashka Corporation, the schools, the airlines. I don't mean to list everything, but I do really enjoy the wide variety of news that we cover at KUCB. And I know that so many different things happen on this island — and that all of these different things help shape the lives of everyone who lives here. So I'm really kind of grateful and enjoy jumping in on anything and everything that becomes important to the community.

STUART-RASI: So Unalaskans will see you around town plenty. But is there anything else you'd like to say right now?

KRAEGEL: Just that I'm really, really happy to be back. It feels so good to be here again. And hopefully, I'll be able to help KUCB serve the community again with some solid local reporting. That's always the goal. But other than that, like I said, I have been away since pre-pandemic. So I am eager to learn about what has changed and what's happening now and what people most care about now — you know, anything I may have missed. So anybody who's listening or anybody who I end up chatting with, please don't hesitate to help me catch up, point out anything I'm missing, give me some good feedback, send any story ideas my way that you think may not be on our radar. All of the above is very valid given that I have been away. So you can find me here at the radio station. You can email me — the email is the same, And you can get me on the phone. The phone number is different. It's 359-0500. So any and all avenues, come talk to me.

Sofia was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s reported around the U.S. for local public radio stations, NPR and National Native News. Sofia has a Master of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana, a graduate certificate in Documentary Studies from the Salt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. In between her studies, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, Colorado for a few years.
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