From Juneau to Germany

Long before learning the radio ropes in Alaska, Alexa was inspired by the creative use of audio in newscasts of the late 1960s and '70s on stations in California's Bay Area. Born and raised in San Francisco, she made her way to Alaska in 1978 to work for the U.S. Geological Survey. Returning there two years later to help activists campaign against the controversial Susitna dam project, she stayed on to continue her studies and work at KUAC-FM in Fairbanks, with later stints in Anchorage and Petersburg. After graduating in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, she was called back to Alaska as a reporter for KRBD in Ketchikan and later KTOO in Juneau, the state capital. In early 1986, Radio Deutsche Welle brought her to Cologne, West Germany on a 20-month contract. By the time it ended, many other doors had opened.

Sensing subtle cracks in the Iron Curtain, Alexa first reported from Eastern Europe in 1988, starting in Hungary and Czechoslovakia (the latter clandestinely at first), followed by Poland, the first country to shed its communist government the following year. A witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall and other uprisings such as the Velvet Revolution, she produced many stories on German reunification and the transformation of the continent. Over the course of nearly 20 trips to Africa in subsequent years, she reported from Mali, Morocco, Cameroon and elsewhere; on a Knight Fellowship in 1999, she trained women journalists in Senegal.

Later that year, a ten-month European Journalism Fellowship landed Alexa in Berlin for good. Between training assignments in Africa, she covered central Europe and filed additional stories from the United Arab Emirates, the Indian Himalayan state of Sikkim, Bhutan, Belize, Cyprus, Greece, and Iceland. In 2015, she served as interim executive editor for BBC Media Action in Ethiopia and as editor/translator/narrator for 20 years at DW News. Over a dozen of her pieces have aired on the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent. Her voice has featured in a number of art installations, museum audio guides, and documentary films.

Selected Accolades

First Place, Sigma Delta Chi Award for Personal Justice Denied, about the wartime internment of Alaskan Aleuts, 1985

Corporation for Public Broadcasting, silver award for The Guarding of Eden, on the debate over oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic, 1992

Flame Valor Award, 1970 for helping save two lives


alexadvorson [at] gmail [dot] com