Radio helps mushers, listeners

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2000

FAIRBANKS -- From the helicopter hovering high above to the dog mushing teams armed with miniature radios, the marriage between technology and dog mushing has been a happy union, indeed.

What once wasn't even a thought now is commonplace as mushers in the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race wear Walkmans to keep up with changing weather conditions, competitors and possible pitfalls on the course.

Radio personality Monte Bowen has been working the race for 15 years. He said technology and equipment have improved dramatically over the years and is amazed at how many people have come to rely on it.

''Technology is making it easier and faster to cover the race,'' Bowen said. ''And it's nice to know that it's going out worldwide.''

Bowen, who also can be heard online at, said the Internet provides people with information as it happens. Mushers even are setting their race strategy by what they hear on their radios, he said.

Helen Lundberg, who was part of race leader Egil Ellis' team, said technology and dog racing are mutually beneficial. As she charted the progress of other teams, Lundberg said radios are helpful because they alert mushers to problems.

Besides radio, Lundberg said the Internet also is vital to the success of mushing events because it doesn't have the boundaries that radio and television do. The Internet exposes people from around the world to sports like dog racing for a fraction of the cost, she said.

''It's good for mushing because we want to get people interested in what we are doing,'' Lundberg said.

Carol Kaynor, who was logging her 12th year as timing board operator for this year's race, thinks the growing number of media outlets is a good thing.

As more and more people get connected to the information superhighway, the sport will reach living rooms, offices and even schools -- something race officials could only dream about just a few years ago, she said.

''This race gets attention all over the world,'' Kaynor said. ''You stick it on the Internet and there isn't any corner of the world it can't reach.''

But others see the proliferation of media outlets simply for what they're intended to do: Provide information to the public.

As spectator and recreational dog musher Harold David Sr. put it, it's not the speed or medium that the information travels through, it's just being able to listen to what is going on.

''Listening to the radio I feel like I am there,'' he said. ''And hopefully one day I will be.''

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