Anchorage Genie Chance Memories
Do you remember Anchorage's Genie Chance? She was one of the very first in Anchorage to start reporting on the radio after the 1964 earthquake.
Photo by Starr Judkins Lane
You were about to experience the biggest earthquake in North America.
It was 5:36pm on March 27, 1964 and for the next 5 minutes, your world was turned upside down by an earthquake you thought would never end.
What had happened? Were your loved ones alright? And how bad was the damage?
There were no cell phones back then and following the earthquake, there was no electricity for anyone, including Anchorage radio and TV stations.
Then, following the quake and with the help of generators, Genie Chance went on the air, by radio broadcast, from the Alaska Public Safety Building.
Meet Emma Gene “Genie” Broadfoot
Following her marriage to Winston Cash Chance, she became known as Genie Chance.
She first moved to Anchorage in 1959 and did news for KENI radio and KENI -TV channel 2. Later, she was at KFQD radio and was one of the first women in Alaska broadcast news.
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Photo by Ed Rosek
You Needed to Know
What had happened? Were your loved ones alright? And what had been damaged?
Then Genie was there.
During her radio broadcasts after the earthquake, her calm voice was a blessing to many.
And suddenly, you were connected to your town, your state.
Genie not only reported on the damage caused by the quake, but she delivered messages from families looking for loved ones.
How Do You Purify Snow for Drinking Water?
Sounds like a silly question now, but following the 1964 earthquake, you were told not to drink tap water because it was contaminated. And bottled drinking water was no where to be found.
There was Genie telling you how to purify snow for drinking water. And pleading for the owners of grocery stores to open quickly. She also asked the public not to hoard.
Photo by Helen Bucy
How Do You Even Begin to Report on What Had Happened?
The need for information was so great, it seemed like it was never ending.
Genie Chance broadcast on the radio for 24 hours straight. Whew!
You can here Genie’s 1964 earthquake reporting right now.
This YouTube audio recording has a false start. Then it “rewinds” and starts again. Keep listening and you’ll hear Genie’s voice reporting from the Civil Defense Headquarters.
Check out Genie Chance reporting on the earthquake right now.
How Could She be So Calm?
When asked about her calm radio delivery immediately following the Good Friday earthquake, Genie said:
“it was her way of reassuring people that the world had not come to an end”.
There Were Others
As we remember the contributions of Genie Chance following the 1964 Great Alaska earthquake, we also want to thank Anchorage broadcast professionals like Ron Moore who quickly started reporting on the radio shortly after the quake.
Ron was the first one back on the air on KFQD after the earthquake and stayed there for 54 hours. Amazing.
She Continued Helping the People of Alaska
Genie Chance went on to serve in the Alaska House of Representatives in 1968.
Do you want to know more about Genie Chance?
Check out this Smithsonian Magazine article right now.
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Do You Remember Phyllis Adams?
Phyllis was the KENI-TV channel 2 weather girl in the late 1950s. Phyllis says maybe around 1957 or 1958.
There were 2 weather girls before her. Phyllis doesn’t recall who replaced her. She worked with KENI-TV news anchor Ty Clark.
The weather map, made famous later by Theda Comstock, was a big sheet of plexiglass mounted on a wooden frame and suspended from the studio ceiling.
On the map were the names of Alaska cities and there was a black dot next to each city’s name.
During the weather, Phyllis says:
“I had all this useful information for travelers and silly patter to amuse viewers who were impressed with my ability to remember stuff and write it on the map with a black felt pen… “left-handed and backwards”, A trick that was accomplished by flipping a “reverse” switch on the camera.”
She had to wear light colored clothing as she stood behind the plexiglass map so viewers could see the black city names and the temperatures she wrote.
But one evening, she had a dinner date following the weather and she wore a
“spiffy silk suit which happened to be black.”
When she realized that the viewers couldn’t read the temperatures, she told them she was sorry they":
“couldn’t see through my clothes”. Whoops… A live TV blooper!
According to Phyllis, she -
“got lots of fan mail and a couple of marriage proposals from lonely guys sitting at their monitors on the “Dewline”.
Phyllis was also the live version of the “Matanuska Maid” for personal appearances.
Mike and Mary remember how everyone was scrambling to learn what had happened and if loved ones were OK after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake.
And we are grateful to Anchorage broadcasters like Genie Chance, Ron Moore and others who started reporting a soon as they could when the shaking of the main quake was over. Remember those horrifying after shocks?
Do you have a comment, suggestion or just want to say “I remember Genie Chance” or “I remember Phyllis Adams doing the weather.”
You can contact us by replying to this email, or by Contacting Us right now.
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Until Next Time
Mike & Mary