Veteran Alaska journalist Laurence Jay Barrett dies at 60

Veteran Alaska journalist and KBBI News Director Laurence Jay Barrett died Thursday, March 17, at his home in Homer. He was 60.

Jay, or JayBob, as he was known to friends, was born and raised in Dillingham, proud to be the convergence of his mother’s Yup’ik heritage and his father’s flaming red hair. He started in public radio in junior high when the school district there founded KDLG-AM. He got a degree in photography from the Art Institute in Seattle in 1988 and started pursuing a career in commercial photography, but couldn’t resist the pull back to reporting and Alaska.

He worked in print, radio and TV across Alaska, from KDLG and the Bristol Bay Times in Dillingham to the Tundra Drums and KYUK AM/TV in Bethel. On the Kenai Peninsula, he was the KDLL central peninsula reporter for KBBI, a reporter and photographer at the Peninsula Clarion, the museum coordinator at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center and filled in as a reporter and host at KSRM Radio.

He spent a dozen years as news director at KMXT in Kodiak, where he hosted the award-winning Alaska Fisheries Report for 10 years. He returned to Kenai as a reporter and Morning Edition host on KDLL from 2017 to 2020, starting listeners on their day with his signature unhurried cadence and off-the-wall observations. Most recently, he was the news director at KBBI in Homer.

Barrett’s art photography was recognized in numerous statewide exhibits and is included in the Alaska State Museum’s permanent collection. He had an eye for the offbeat, a heart for the little guy and could tell the hell out of a quirky Alaska story. He was a tech geek, science fiction nerd and sports junky, and remained eternally optimistic that his beloved Chicago Cubs would win another World Series.

He leaves behind his brother, Jean Barrett, of Dillingham, and many colleagues and fans over the airwaves across Alaska.

This story was originally published by KDLL public radio and is reprinted with permission. Jenny Neyman is the general manager of KDLL.