KBBI and KDLL Public Radio News Director Aaron Selbig leaves Homer at the end of this month to take a job as news reporter at Interlochen Public Radio, Interlochen, Mich., in the northwest lower region near Traverse City. Selbig and his wife, Nova Stubbs, are both originally from Michigan and have family there.
“I’m going to miss Homer, but I’m excited to make a new life there,” Selbig said. “It seems like the perfect place for us — close enough to our family.”
Selbig started as news director in November 2009 and has lived in Alaska since 1994. He came to Homer in July 2008 to work as a reporter for the Homer News. As news director for the two western Kenai Peninsula radio stations, he supervised both news departments.
Recently hired Morning Edition host Shady Grove Oliver has been appointed to replace Selbig. Oliver moved to Homer from Wrangell, where she had been the solo reporter for KSTK Public Radio. She started as the Morning Edition host in early May, and after the Funny River fire started near Soldotna, covered the fire there while KDLL reporter Shaylon Cochran was on vacation.
“We’ve been really impressed with her the short time she has been with us,” Selbig said of himself and General Manager Dave Anderson. “She has leadership skills. We didn’t think we’d find a better candidate than her.”
“I’m excited by it. I wasn’t expecting it all,” Oliver said. “I’m honored by the confidence they’ve shown me. It’s a good feeling.”
Selbig, 41, came to Alaska after serving in the U.S. Army. He’d heard stories of Alaska from an Army friend from Seward and decided to visit. He drove to Alaska in October 1994 in a 1985 Datsun with no snow tires. He met Stubbs at an Anchorage hostel. They have a son, Otto. Selbig also has a son from a previous marriage, Gabe, who just graduated from Homer High School.
In Anchorage, Selbig worked for KUDO radio and had a show, “The Aaron Selbig Show.” He also started his own paper, Insurgent 49, and wrote for the Turnagain Times, the Anchorage Press, the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Chronicle.
Interlochen Public Radio was founded in 1963 and is owned by Interlochen Arts Academy, the same boarding school musician Jewel Kilcher attended in her teens. Interlochen Public Radio serves the northwest lower Michigan area with both classical music and news stations.
Selbig said the biggest challenge as news director for KBBI and KDLL is covering the news from lower Cook Inlet to Nikiski.
“That’s one of the things I’m proudest of — we’ve really improved the coverage of the whole western peninsula,” he said.
Oliver, 26, was born in New York City, but grew up in Riverside, Calif., in southern California. She graduated from high school and college there, earning a bachelor of arts in languages and world religions in 2009 from the University of California Riverside.
She started coming to Alaska to do summer work in Sitka. In 2009 she worked as a natural history interpreter for Alaska State Parks at the Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass near Wasilla. She also worked as interim program director at KCAW Public Radio in Sitka before going to graduate school at Columbia University, New York. While in New York she volunteered for WKCR Public Radio, doing an arts show and a world music show.
“The only consistent thing I’ve been is a world music DJ,” she said.
Oliver graduated with a master of science in narrative medicine in 2012.
“It’s designed to bring story telling and communication back into health care,” she said of narrative medicine.
Oliver worked as an emergency medical technician in Riverside, and approached the degree as both an EMT and a journalist. The program also included doctors and other health professionals. Narrative medicine looks at patient stories and oral histories or patients involved in traumatic medical incidents, she said.
After graduate school, she returned to Alaska to work in Wrangell. Oliver met her husband, John Getty, in elementary school when she was 5 and he was 8, but they didn’t get reacquainted until she commented on one of his Facebook posts. Getty also went to UC Riverside. He works for Google as a telecommuter. She and her husband have a fondness for rescue dogs and have four rescue dogs.
Oliver came to KBBI and KDLL because she’d heard of the radio stations on the peninsula.
“I had really fallen in love with the town of Wrangell, but I was looking forward to working at these stations here,” she said.
This was her first time visiting and living on the Kenai Peninsula.
“I’d heard it was really beautiful, but honestly, I’ve never found a place in Alaska I didn’t like,” Oliver said.
Oliver found out about Selbig leaving after she arrived at KBBI. Because KSTK in Wrangell was a one-person newsroom, she was a defacto news director, Oliver said.
“It’ll be different in that I have two people I’m overseeing, but past that it’s not daunting to me,” she said.
KBBI is reviewing applications now for Oliver’s current job as Morning Edition host and reporter and hopes to hire her replacement soon, she said.