New Bridger-Teton AM radio station broadcasts forest info from Harrison Ford

It's a way for visitors to stay up to date on fire and wildlife risks, with some of that information coming from Indiana Jones himself.
Radio receivers are now installed at ranger stations in Jackson and Moran, with another portable receiver yet to be placed. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

 

Bridger-Teton National Forest launched a new radio station this week, and it’s getting a boost from Indiana Jones. 

Turn the AM dial to 1710 and the voice of Han Solo fills the airwaves.

“This is Harrison Ford. Hot dry summers mean a campfire can rapidly spread becoming a wildfire,” says Ford, an avid conservationist who has property in the region. 

He recorded messaging for the national forest about outdoor safety that’s front and center on the new channel.

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Ford continues, “Did you know you could be held responsible for a hefty fire and suppression costs? Drown your campfire before you leave.”

Fire safety

The forest information station is the brainchild of Bridger-Teton’s Lesley Gomez-Williams, who saw that these stations are run by national forests and parks across the country, including Yellowstone.

As a fire prevention specialist at Bridger-Teton, Gomez-Williams wanted a way to communicate fire risk to people coming from different parts of the U.S. 

“Having a consistent message in fire prevention throughout our forest and even our region is extremely important,” Gomez-Williams said, referencing the “pour, stir and drown” method of putting out campfires.

The station won’t just communicate fire information. It will address issues such as how to store food properly when camping and what to do when you see a bear on the side of the road.

“So this is just going to be a great tool for helping the public understand responsible recreation and also keep them safe and their fellow campers safe as well,” Gomez-Williams said.

Heightened need

The station launch comes after Teton County saw record-breaking visitation numbers as people flocked to the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Scott Kosiba, who leads Friends of the Bridger-Teton, the forest’s fundraising arm, said this highlighted the need for a central place for information, just like national parks have.

“[In national parks], you’re crossing a threshold, you’re making eye contact with a park ranger and you’re getting that information directly from a human,” Kosiba said. “On the national forest public lands — whether it’s the Bridger-Teton, the Caribou-Targhee, anywhere else — you don’t have that direct access to information.

Kosiba said he hopes this will change with radio receivers now planted at the ranger stations in Jackson and Moran. The airwaves even reach the top of Teton Pass thanks to around $20,000 in initial funding from the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board

And one key message for listeners? In Harrison Ford’s words: “Know before you go.”

Friends of the Bridger-Teton is a financial supporter of KHOL.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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