KBBI AM 890 is a public radio station based out of Homer AK with a mission to provide news, information and entertainment to foster community engagement. KBBI has been finding new and inventive ways to fulfill this mission and keep the community connected. One such initiative has been the creation of a live weekly call-in Storytime Radio Hour with Claudia Haines from the Homer Public Library.
The Homer Public Library closed in response to the pandemic at the end of March 2020. While the library has slowly been reopening services, Storytime has continued live on air Thursday mornings. During the show, Claudia mimics what would happen in regular library storytime with just a few modifications. Listeners are invited to join in for a bend and stretch activity before settling in for a story. Claudia then shares three stories interspersed with guided dance or movement breaks and tips for literacy and learning at home before ending with a call-in segment for kids.
The program follows the same basic format every week, and book titles are shared on both the library’s and radio station’s social media platforms before storytime. This allows families to predict what will happen, put the book on hold for their next library pick up or even grab their own copy of the book to read along. For those who can’t tune in at the scheduled time, we have created ‘Storytime Anytime’ for on-demand listening available on the KBBI website. ‘Storytime Anytime’ consists of a recording of the My Father’s Dragon trilogy by Ruth Stiles Gannett read by Claudia Haines which can be listened to chapter by chapter at the leisure of the listener.
In rural Homer, public radio successfully reaches more than half of the local community plus listeners living in more than 20 other remote communities. For families with children under the age of 6, a no-cost program like storytime offers a diverse group of families an opportunity to grow their children’s early literacy skills in a play-based experience, access high-quality books and media of all kinds, connect with other families and library staff while building positive relationships. Because of the physical barriers, Alaska’s geography offers and the social or emotional isolation many families feel at some point, building positive relationships has always been a critical part of family learning programs like preschool or toddler storytime at the Homer Library. Radio Storytime is an extension of that vital space.