A Woman to Know: Genie Chance

Many of us have enjoyed— actually, taken a great deal of pride in— seeing the way the people of Anchorage can rise to the occasion. — Genie Chance

Many of us have enjoyed— actually, taken a great deal of pride in— seeing the way the people of Anchorage can rise to the occasion. — Genie Chance

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Genie may have been born in Texas, but Alaska was her home. She moved there with her family in the 1950s and built a career as an intrepid radio reporter for the Anchorage station. She covered dog sledding races, local politics and more, but she hungered for a bigger opportunity.

Then, in 1964, a devastating earthquake hit Alaska. At the time, Genie was in the car, driving with her young son. Once she made sure he and her other children were safe at home, she rushed to the newsroom. The shock and its aftermath damaged her radio station, but Genie refused to leave. She broadcast for 59 consecutive hours, sharing vital information for rescue workers, Anchorage families and concerned citizens across the state. People called in to ask her for some way to let their families and friends know they needed supplies, or had supplies to share, or were otherwise just safe and healthy. She shared these updates for her own family in Texas, too, and people later said that while she kept the radio waves up-to-date, but she also provided some much-needed security and comfort in the midst of a horrifying time.

In 1974, Genie ran for Alaska state government and won, eventually serving in both the House of Representatives and the state Senate. She shepherded key reforms improving the lives of women and girls, even helping establish the Alaska University system.

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