LISTEN: What Alaskans’ response to the 1964 earthquake can teach us about approaching crises today.

Jon Mooallem, journalist and author of “This is Chance!” about renowned Alaskan journalist Genie Chance and her coverage of the 1964 earthquake (photo credit: Meghann Riepenhoff)

The COVID-19 outbreak has drawn comparisons to other viral outbreaks and disasters in history like the Spanish Flu of 1918 or even 9/11.

It can be scary and isolating when a singular event suddenly makes life uncertain. But, it also provides an opportunity for people to help each other out.

That observation colors the new book “This is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice that Held It Together” about renowned Alaska journalist Genie Chance and her extraordinary coverage of the 1964 earthquake that devastated the state.

Journalist and author Jon Mooallem talks with Lori Townsend about his book and what he learned about how Alaskans made it through a day that literally turned their world upside down.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori