When Jeanie Greene was a little girl growing up in Sitka, she was fascinated with stories of Native life. Her parents, both Inupiat Eskimos, taught her the subsistence way of life, and her home was a gathering place for lonely Inupiat students attending Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school.Those influences helped drive Greene to devote the last 11 years of her life to telling Natives stories to a Native audience, using the medium of television. As host and producer of "Heartbeat Alaska," Greene has become one of the best-known people in rural Alaska, and increasingly, by indigenous peoples in Canada and the Lower 48.Today, the Anchorage office of Jeanie Greene Productions Inc. boasts a set for "Heartbeat Alaska," multiple digital video editing suites, and nine employees who use top-quality equipment to gather stories from around the state.In addition to "Heartbeat Alaska," the company produces a weekly religious program featuring Native evangelical speakers called "We Win," distributed by direct broadcast satellite throughout North America on the Sky Angel network.On Sept. 21, the company rolled out a new half-hour TV show, "This Generation," aimed at Native youths."There is so much attacking our youth," Greene said. "We wanted to show the talent and beauty and wonder in our youth." The program is sponsored by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and is broadcast on the state’s rural TV channel, ARCS.Big sponsors, good equipment, a staff of editors and photographers -- it’s a far cry from the early days of "Heartbeat Alaska," when Greene did it all herself -- from looking for sponsors to shooting and editing video.Greene had always been interested in drama and in the 1980s she started a small theater company in the Anchorage area. In the late ’80s she got her first on-air television experience hosting "Showcase of Homes," a real estate program on KTBY Channel 4 in Anchorage. The program was later moved to KIMO Channel 13.In 1990, Greene got the idea of doing a TV show about Alaska Natives. Called "Northern Lives," the program aired over the last four minutes of KIMO’s evening newscast when it was sent out to rural Alaska on RATNET, as the state’s satellite system was then called. In 1992, the program began airing in Anchorage."That’s when I started getting videotapes from villages," Greene recalled. "The villagers were all my cameramen. I was getting so much video that I could make a half-hour show."KIMO at first rejected the idea, but finally agreed, Greene said. RATNET also beamed it to the Bush. Renamed "Heartbeat Alaska," the show consisted of Greene narrating a variety of stories about Native Alaskans -- and a lot of shaky video from the villages. It debuted in October 1992.Greene is the first to admit it was hokey, but she said it met a need."Until then, the Native people had gone unheard," she said. "They saw themselves as themselves, not as drunken Natives or happy dancers. It was a phenomenon that started to grow and grow and grow."It was a consciousness that started rising up in the Native people. It sure wasn’t my editing!"Shortly after the show’s debut, KIMO canceled it, citing economic problems. The Anchorage public TV station, KAKM, picked it up and has aired it ever since.As word of the show spread, other people became interested in it. Soon, Navajo Nations TV began carrying it, and then it was picked up by Television Northern Canada, a government-run channel, which aired in Canada’s northern villages.Sponsorship of the program had always been difficult, Greene said. She fondly remembers her first sponsor, Coca-Cola of Anchorage, which provided $20,000 to help her begin producing "Heartbeat Alaska." But most advertisers were put off by the nonprofessional look of the program, she said. Also, with no Neilsen ratings in the Bush, she couldn’t prove she had a sizable audience -- even though she was convinced she did.In 1996, exhausted by doing everything by herself, Greene stopped producing "Heartbeat Alaska." She was tired, she said."I hadn’t had a weekend off in seven years," she said.She said she needed time to decide whether to continue with the show or try something new.Then the calls came in, from Alaska and Canada and the reservations in the Lower 48, letting her know how important the show was to her viewers. With no new programs coming in, her broadcast outlets simply began airing reruns.After two months, Greene decided to continue with the show, but this time with a single goal: to improve its technical quality. That, in turn, would give the show credibility with advertisers and distributors."I wanted the highest quality possible because the national and international networks demand it," she said.Greene cut back on her operating costs and began buying state of the art editing and production equipment. In 1998, the Canadian network that carried her program became a commercial operation and began paying her for her show, and airing it nationwide. The increased income allowed her to hire professional videographers and editors, which further improved quality."The sponsors started calling me," Greene said. "Now I am welcome at the table, and I am bringing a delicious dish."Greene says her revenues have increased $50,000 per year since the show began, which would put her near the half-million dollar mark today. She’s clearly delighted with the quality of her program and is continuing to dream up new ideas and new distribution methods.There’s a radio show, "Whistle for the Wind," that’s in the works. Greene is negotiating to have "Heartbeat Alaska" distributed on a direct broadcast satellite channel that covers Europe and North Africa. And she’s working with state international trade officials to get the show broadcast in Japan, Germany and Australia."Don’t you think they’re going to fall in love with us?" she asked.Even though there’s not much home video on the show any more, Greene feels she still connects with her audience. "They’ve grown up," she said. "They’re more sophisticated. I just have to reflect their life, and be honest and true."