Incredible tales from Alaskans who helped end the Cold War

Melting the Ice Curtain, book cover

In a time when the political climate paints our country and Russia as very distrustful of one another, we’re bringing you a show about a time when Alaskans and Russians were reunited and found they shared a common heritage. We’re going to hear incredible tales from key players in melting the Alaska-Russia Ice Curtain in the mid-1980s discuss how Alaska helped end the Cold War, launching a 30-year era of productive commercial and personal relations across the Bering Strait.




  • Jim Stimpfle – a Nome realtor whose stories of interactions with Russia through his Native wife’s family inspired him to engage in “Balloon Diplomacy” and other efforts to open the Strait. Stimpfle has visited Russia many times and helped convince Nome merchants to accept Russian rubles.
  • Dave Heatwole – a former Alaska oil company executive who caught the “Russia bug” through the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and traveled numerous times to Russia as one of the few Alaska businessmen who were successful working there. Heatwole even met his wife working in Russia.
  • Elena Kostenko-Farkas – West High School’s Russian language teacher and founder of the Anchorage public school Russian immersion program. Farkas moved to Alaska from Magadan, Russia, in 1992, operated a Russian bookstore in Anchorage and promotes Russian cultural understanding.




RECORDED: Friday, December 1st, 2017 at 49th Brewing Company.

BROADCAST: Tuesday, February 20th, 2018. 2:00 pm – 3:00 p.m. AKT


Addressing Alaskans features local lectures and forums recorded at public events taking place in Southcentral Alaska. A variety of local organizations host speakers addressing topics that matter to Alaskans. To let us know about an upcoming community event that you would like to hear on Addressing Alaskans, please Contact Us with details.

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Eric Bork, or you can just call him “Bork” because everybody else does, is the Audio Media Content Producer for KSKA-FM. He produces and edits episodes of Outdoor Explorer, Addressing Alaskans, as well as a few other programs. He also maintains the web posts for those shows and many others on You can sometimes hear him filling in for Morning Edition or find him operating the sound board for any of the live broadcast programs. After escaping the Detroit area when he was 18, Bork made it up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he earned a degree in Communications/Radio Broadcasting from Northern Michigan University. He spent time managing the college radio station, working for the local NPR affiliate and then in top 40 radio in Michigan before coming to Alaska to work his first few summers. After then moving to Chicago, it only took five years to convince him to move back to Alaska in 2010. When not involved in great radio programming he’s probably riding a bicycle, thinking about riding bicycles, dreaming about bikes, reading a book or planning the next place he’ll travel to. Only two continents left to conquer!