The late and beloved John Active has joined the ranks of the Alaska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. John worked with KYUK for more than 40 years in both radio and television as a journalist, Yup’ik translator, storyteller, talk show host, and radio personality. The Alaska Broadcasters Association inducted John on Friday at the Association’s annual awards ceremony in Anchorage. KTVA "Frontiers" host and former KYUK News Director Rhonda McBride, along with KYUK General Manager Shane Iverson, nominated John and presented the award. John’s cousin Marie Meade, a professor of Alaska Native Studies at UAA, accepted the award on behalf of John’s family. Below are their speeches in full. John, congratulations. We wish you could have been there.
Rhonda McBride: Well, Shane Iverson from KYUK and I have this just this wonderful thing in common. We both worked at KYUK in Bethel, Alaska, and we had the pleasure of working with John Active. And I went to KYUK in 1988 and worked with John, and it was something, I think, that maybe changed my life. Because when I first went there, they had broadcasts in Yup’ik and I thought, "Not that many people speak Yup’ik, so why is it important to keep this language alive?" And John Active stood up and said, "My mission is to Yupify the world!" And he was a one-man mission who, pretty much, for much of his career was often the only one broadcasting in Yup’ik.
Shane Iverson: And I got to know John. I’m the General Manager of KYUK now and I don’t know if you guys know this, but out in Bethel, Alaska, we have the oldest Native American owned public media organization in the entire country in KYUK, and so I got to know John [while] working with him and producing for him. And if you didn’t get a chance to see his work, he was just an all-star talent. He could do it all. He could do funny; he could do journalism. He could do it in English, he could do it in Yup’ik, and he could do it in both. If there was a reality TV show about broadcasters, you know, you’ve got the mining show, the dog mushing show. If there was one about broadcasting, John Active would have been the star and we would have been the sidekicks.
McBride: And the wonderful thing about John was that he would sprinkle Yup’ik all the time. I had a chance to learn some wonderful Yup’ik words like imkuciq, which means thingamabob.
Iverson: Very useful. Thingamabob.
McBride: And John would love to pukuk. Do you know what that is?
Iverson: Suck it off the bone, which is what you should do with all your food.
McBride: But that was the wonderful thing about him. He made everyone sort of appreciate his language and culture. And one of my ah-ha moments with John came just a few years ago. I had tapped the archives at UAF for audio, and I’d found some audio that his grandmother, the late Maggie Lind, recorded. It was a tale about how the fox became red. So I played this clip and interviewed John on "Frontiers," and I just played a tiny little bit of the clip, and John finished that story verbatim as his grandmother had said it. Because I had heard the tape, at that moment, I just realized how rich it is to have all those generations after generations after generations of storytelling in you. I mean, there is probably not a broadcaster in our country that could make that kind of a claim: that they have generations of storytelling and were on the radio and TV. But anyway, we have an award to give, and one of John’s dear friends, Marie Meade, is going to accept it.
Marie Meade: Quyana John for everything you’ve done for the whole state, for our region. He was a very special person, one of a kind. And we all loved him, and we miss him, but his legacy and his work is going to continue on. And everyone at home, we are all proud of him. He was my cousin; he was adopted out to another family. His mother and my father were like brother and sister so John and I were first cousins. So he’s a very special person in my life. Quyana.
Iverson: While our emcees come up, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to Yupify this crowd just a little bit. There is a great expression in Yup’ik to say goodbye. It’s Tua-i-ngunrituq, which literally translates to ‘This is not the end.’ So Tua-i-ngunrituq.