20 in their 20s

Eric Stone says he feels as busy as a one-armed paperhanger most days. He produces one to three daily news stories for the people of Ketchikan, Alaska, an island town with a population of about 8,000 — and a place he had never been to before reporting for duty to cover it. “It’s not as cold here as you might think,” he says. “We’re in the middle of the country’s largest national forest and part of the largest temperate rainforest in North America.” 

Stone is a reporter for KRBD Community Radio, a four-person staff that covers every issue that is important to Ketchikan. “We’re the only public radio station for this part of Alaska,” he says. “I pitch my own stories, which is exciting and intimidating for someone who just graduated college.”  

“While away from school, I spent a lot of time listening to public radio and podcasts, which sparked my interest in journalism,” he says. “I returned to Rice for the one-on-one campus experience, and the Thresher became my journalism school.”

While new to Alaska, Stone isn’t a stranger to new places. He initially pursued a degree in computational mathematics, but left Rice after a couple of years to explore and travel. He spent a few winters as a ski lift operator in Colorado and worked as a sailboat instructor in Galveston. “While away from school, I spent a lot of time listening to public radio and podcasts, which sparked my interest in journalism,” he says. “I returned to Rice for the one-on-one campus experience, and the Thresher became my journalism school.”

Stone served as the paper’s opinion editor and spent many late nights soaking up how the news industry worked. Today, he continues to gain on-the-job experience covering the pandemic in an isolated town with minimal medical resources. “Reporting on COVID-19 has been incredibly stressful, exhausting and rewarding,” he says. “The town has been reeling from the cancellation of the 2020 cruise ship season — the majority of its economic activity. My team and I are working to quickly inform everyone in Ketchikan as developments unfold.”

Read more “20 in Their 20s” profiles here.

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