NOAA 2004-R242
Contact: Tracey Lake

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Distinguished volunteers receive the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Environmental Hero Award in Anchorage. The award was presented by Laura Furgione, acting regional director, during a ceremony for KAKM Channel 7.

Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their "tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment." KAKM Channel 7 was recognized for its 27year partnership with the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Alaska Region to produce and broadcast the popular “Alaska Weather” show.

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the Environmental Hero award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA carry out its mission.

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present you with this 2003 Environmental Hero Award,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to the recipients. “Your dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments greatly benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans.”

KAKM Channel 7 has been "bringing the world" to Southcentral Alaska as Alaska Public Television Inc. since it began broadcasting on May 7, 1975, from temporary facilities made available by the University of Alaska.

At this same time, it was recognized that Alaska has the highest number of pilots per capita in the nation and is strongly dependent on aviation travel. Such dependence on aviation, combined with the rugged terrain and often dangerous weather, contributes to Alaska having a disproportionately large number of aircraft accidents. Because of this KAKM Channel 7 recognized the need for a television weather program geared towards aviation. KAKM’s vision was to produce a television weather show that aircraft pilots could watch to help plan their flights. On December 13, 1976, that vision became a reality as KAKM, in partnership with the NWS Alaska Region, aired their first television weather show entitled “Aviation Weather.”

Since then the show has gone through many changes including meteorologists, producers/directors, graphics, even a name change to “Alaska Weather.” What hasn’t changed is Alaska still has the highest number of pilots per capita in the nation, and KAKM is still committed to airing the best television weather show possible. “Alaska Weather” is KAKM’s longest running locally produced program and continues to be their most popular show. Today the show is broadcast throughout Alaska, reaching over 80% of the households. One broadcast administrator even described the program as “virtually untouchable” in their programming schedule. The reason the show is so popular is that it saves lives. Through KAKM’s hard work and dedication to “Alaska Weather,” Alaskans are better prepared for Alaska’s ever changing weather.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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