John Active, the legendary Yup’ik storyteller and host of Ketvarrluku and Talkline, has retired from KYUK.
On March 30, Active co-hosted Talkline with KYUK’s own Diane McEachern for his last show. The show will continue with McEachern and Peter Atchak.
“You are so fun to host with. I really enjoy it; we have a good time,” McEachern said.
Following the show, KYUK hosted a potlatch in Active’s honor. Active has been with KYUK since the beginning, translating Yup’ik and English news, hosting shows like Ketvarrluku and Talkline and filling countless roles with KYUK for decades. Bethel City Council Member Mark Springer pointed out that the station was a pioneer in bringing bilingual content to public broadcasting nationwide, and that John had been a part of that. Springer says that leadership has continued.
“I think he’s really been an inspiration to Alaska Natives and Native Americans because he’s been recognized nationally for his work,” Springer said.
“He belongs,” KYUK’s Peter Atchak said. “He belongs to our community and to this radio station and we’re proud to have shared time with him and space with him, and the words that he passes onto our people. We’re just fortunate to have had Aqumgeciq here amongst us and to share what god had gifted him with.”
“So, I guess this meal here is to honor John in his retirement, but I don’t know,” KYUK’s Dean Swope said. “Somewhere in the back of my head I think ‘ehhh, you’re gonna be showing up. We’ll see ya.’”
It is hard to imagine him not being at the station. Active has retired before from KYUK –and come back. Swope pointed out that John Active’s unique voice has been a part of what has tied the Yup’ik Culture and everyone in the Y-K Delta together. John didn’t find it easy to accept all that praise.
“Yup’ik culture teaches us that we’re not supposed to put ourselves up,” Active said. “And so when people say something good of what I did it kinda makes me embarrassed and bashful, but that’s the Yup’ik way.”
Active said that he’s glad he was raised by his elders, his grandmother and grandfather, and thankful for whatever ability he has to pass down these ways.
“Everything that I do today, try to make people laugh, make them comfortable, is I’m trying to pass on what the elders taught to me by my actions, what I learned from them,” Active said. “And so that’s just me today. I’m kinda short tempered, you know, my Yup’ik name is Aqumgeciq, which means person who likes to sit around, and my English surname is Active, so there’s always a conflict. But I’m sure glad that you came and these people came. I invited a bunch of elders, but elders are short memoried, and they probably forgot! But I always say, the less people when you’re going to eat, the more you’re going to eat ourselves. Quyana Dean. Let’s start!”
But who knows, it could be that KYUK see another potlatch the next time he retires.