2019-2020 Luce Scholar

As a high schooler in Portland, Maine, Zoë Sobel got her first taste of public radio at NPR’s easternmost station. For two years, she served as a member of Maine Public’s Community Advisory Board, suggesting broadcast programming. From there, she’s slowly moved west – onto Boston where she studied psychology at Wellesley College and worked at WBUR, then to KUCB in Unalaska, Alaska. While at WBUR, Zoë produced the station’s national awardwinning coverage of the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and covered sports for NPR’s nationally syndicated sports show, Only A Game. Since moving to Unalaska in 2016, Zoë has covered a region that extends more than 1,000 miles, telling stories about the history of the trans-Alaska pipeline, a rogue rat, and the destruction of 80 tons of contested salmon. Her audio work has appeared in outlets including NPR, WNYC’s Nancy Podcast, National Native News, and PRI’s The World and her photography featured in Newsweek and Pacific Fishing. She’s traveled north to the Pribilof Islands to teach media workshops in the local schools and east to Sand Point to add regional news to their public radio programming. A 2017 trip to Attu Island launched Zoë into film. Since then, she’s been working on a documentary focused on four Alaska Native villages lost during the World War II Aleutian Campaign and efforts by survivors and descendants to stay connected to their homeland and culture. The film will premiere in June alongside an exhibition at the Museum of the Aleutians. Zoë is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership Schools. A former three-sport varsity athlete, Zoë discovered a love of soccer and roller hockey while living in Unalaska and now coaches, refs, and calls basketball games live on the radio. Zoë also coordinates Don’t Fear the Queer, a community group working to create safe inclusive spaces for LGBTQ people in Unalaska. Zoë is looking forward to continuing her journey west as a Luce Scholar.