By Melinda Munson
Mike Swasey, the newest member of the KHNS team, has a smooth voice, but according to Kay Clements, KHNS general manager, there were several other reasons he was hired to report Skagway’s news.
“He’s got a great background in broadcasting,” Clements said, describing Swasey as “smart” with a “great personality.”
The KHNS staff already knew Swasey as he has been a volunteer DJ on Flashbacks and Fresh Tracks on and off for 12 years.
Swasey, a Skagway resident since 2009, is normally a tour guide “driving around looking for bears.” He said he loved his pre-pandemic job but needed employment to be able to remain in town.
He stumbled across the reporter position while visiting KHNS.org to look up the number to the Frasier Border Station.
Swasey, who has a bachelor’s degree in communications, started his master’s degree but quit when he was offered a radio job he couldn’t turn down.
“I’m a grad school drop out,” Swasey joked.
The full time reporter position is a new role for Swasey who has production and broadcast experience, but is relatively new to the news.
Swasey said he will rely on the mentorship of KHNS veteran reporter Henry Leasia and will be “dogged about getting information correct.”
Many in Skagway know Swasey as an event DJ, owner of dog, Charlie, and a frequent disc golf and basketball player. They’ll now hear Swasey five days a week on local public radio.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Swasey said. “They’ve been looking for someone in Skagway for some time.”
Swasey said he’s ready for the challenge of the upcoming years as Skagway fights for financial survival amidst a global pandemic and takes control of its port.
Claire Stremple, former KHNS reporter, moved to Juneau’s KTOO energy desk where she will also report on health and science.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Stremple, who resided in Haines and filled Skagway’s airwaves for a little over two years. “I’m really excited about the opportunity but it isn’t easy to leave a place I care about so much.”