49 Voices: Peter Twitchell of Bethel

Peter Twitchell of Bethel (KYUK photo)

This week we’re hearing from Peter Twitchell in Bethel. Twitchell was the former host of KYUK’s Geezer Rock radio show which aired its final episode on October 27.

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TWITCHELL: This is a village started by five people, and one of them was my grandfather — my mom’s dad. He was from Nelson Island. I’m getting old… 67. My wife always tells me I’m just a young guy, trying to brainwash me.

I grew up across the river in the 50s. With these children of the Army families and Civil Aeronautics Administration families. So I spoke a lot of English. It didn’t sound right to speak Yup’ik. Although I heard it all my life, since I was a little boy. Growing up in our house, listening to my grandma, my mom, her sisters, all her friends. I couldn’t speak it fluently, you know. It was all jumbled up in my head. I knew the words, but I had to learn how to talk.

And that only came through practice, and I got my practice speaking my language here at the radio station. I had to translate five minutes of news every day when I first started here. Fresh out of high school, in ’71 when this station opened. Just a little room with a microphone and a transmitter, and that’s how they started KYUK. So I got a chance to start speaking my language, although I was not really fluent.

But it’s funny, I talked to a friend of mine, he used to manage the station here back in 1977. His name was Henry Ivanoff. He’s from Unalakleet. But that was 22,23 years ago, and his voice still sounds the same. But we’re all aging. It’s a funny thing, the voice doesn’t change too much.

This interview was gathered by the interns at KYUK in Bethel.