A cook by day and a DJ by night, David Kitka shared food and music with equal love. In 2010, Kitka earned the role of Senior Soldier at the Salvation Army for his dedicated work in the kitchen. (Ellen Frankenstein/14miles)

Note: Shortly before he died, David Kitka compiled a playlist for his next installment of Live from the Coast. You can tune in as we play Alaska Dave’s final show from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday, August 11.

Hi, I’m Rich McClear.  When I learned that David Kitka, Alaska Dave, had died, I messaged Marika Partridge. Marika was Raven Radio’s first Program Director.  I had been the station’s first Manager.  David was one of our first volunteers.  On the phone, we reminisced about Alaska Dave and decided to share some of our thoughts.  Here’s Marika.

I first met David Kitka in the early 80s as Raven went on the air. 

He was about 20 years old —  a handsome, curious, eager to learn, Tlingit man who loved music and radio.

He was stylish – he wore a black leather jacket… black pants… always cool t-shirts.

And he was a reliable night owl. His show was Live From the Coast.  It was on on KCAW for nearly four decades.  Wednesday nights from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. Rock, blues, new music. Over the years, he created gorgeous graphics for his show.

I left Sitka and moved to DC in the mid-80s. I lost track of David for a  couple of years… he told me later: He went to the lower 48 and worked for Amtrak. He picked up a nickname “Alaska Dave.” When he came back He took up photography and got amazing shots of Sitka. 

Dave was rightfully proud of his work at Salvation Army as a lead cook. He started there in 2008 and in 2010 they named him Senior Soldier. When I came to Sitka for Raven’s 30th, in 2012, David invited my family to lunch at the Salvation Army kitchen. He served us fish stew, rice and frybread and dessert.  We started texting back and forth after that visit.  When I checked in with him last summer he told me about how he was mobilizing grocery stores and fishermen and feeding Sitkans during the pandemic.  I pitched the story to National Public Radio.  Due to lack of vision at the national level that profile of David Kitka’s deep goodness and generosity never materialized on NPR.  But I thank you David, You are loved and missed.  

Gunalchéesh for all your service to the world.

That was Marika Partridge, Raven Radio’s first program director.  I can only add that when I took up photography Dave was right there to give me pointers. I remember one night, after 2 a.m. when Live from the Coast was over, Most volunteers have shifts of two hours or less.  Two hours could never contain Dave’s love of music and radio.  He wanted four hours, and he got them.  Well after his show we were standing together, cameras on tripods, shooting the Aurora at Starrigavan wondering at the beauty of our home, or as he would say “Kitka’s back yard.”   Thank you friend.  

David Kitka died a week ago Sunday (8-1-21).

With Marika Partridge, I’m Rich McClear.