Brianna Gibbs/KMXT and Matthew Smith/KNOM
As recorded weather forecasts around the state and nation switch to automated voices, Kodiak remains one of the only places in the country that still uses the voices of real people.
The forecasts, put out by NOAA Weather Radio, are beamed on radios and VHFs around the state, and are likely familiar sounds in Kodiak homes, where many folks rely on weather and marine updates for fishing and recreational activities.
Last week, Nome made the switch to an automated system, one that replaces the voices of federal employees at the weather service with “Tom.”
Tom is one of at least two voices available for the automated weather system that, after being installed at nearly every other weather outpost in the nation, is now coming to radios across Western Alaska. Tom isn’t actually replacing the employees, just their voices. Weather Service staff will still be there to make sure Tom has the right information to broadcast.
The change in Nome leaves Kodiak one of the last remaining weather stations to use real people for its radio forecasting. Five different people read the weather at the Kodiak station and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
A spokesperson from the National Weather Service said Kodiak will probably switch to automated voices at some point, but there’s no timeline for the transition, which would require equipment changes, too.
*We had help on this story from KNOM’s Matthew Smith