The spring fundraiser, held April 12-14 at KUAC, got a healthy financial boost, due to a generous contribution from the estate of Joel Switzer.
Switzer, who died in a construction-related accident in August 2017, loved KUAC so much that his family decided to make the station a beneficiary of his estate.
“We wanted to celebrate Joel during the pledge drive,” said friend Jeannette Okinczyc. “KUAC FM was on at his home all the time. He recognized the importance of KUAC to our community.”
Switzer, who died at the age of 45, grew up in Freeport, Illinois, and was a forest firefighter in Montana. In 1994, he and his friend Ken Gieser traveled to Alaska and decided to stay. Gieser gave a heartfelt talk about Switzer on KUAC FM during the fundraiser. Since Switzer especially loved KUAC FM’s Saturday programming, his funds were dedicated for April 13 from noon to 9 p.m. and matched all donations dollar for dollar during that time.
This generosity encouraged $16,500 in gifts for the station during that nine-hour period.
“We received contributions from new and renewing donors who appreciated that their donation would be matched 100 percent,” said Gretchen Gordon, KUAC’s assistant general manager. “This surprising and generous gift from Joel’s estate helped us surpass our goals; we are honored to have been chosen as a recipient.”
Since Switzer’s death, his friends have been volunteering for the KUAC fundraiser phone banks as “The Friends of Joel Switzer,” answering calls from donors. “Joel’s connection to KUAC was strong and an example to others,” Gordon said.
A construction worker by trade, Switzer delved into dog mushing, snowboarding, skiing, canoeing, biking, cliff diving, caribou hunting, dip netting and traveling. He was happy to show Alaska to friends and family who visited from out of state. His obituary said, “Joel was a dear friend to many Alaskans, always willing and able to lend a hand on most any project.”