The dispute between GCI Cable and Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU started more than 14 months ago, when GCI began negotiating for the purchase of two NBC stations in Southeast, and one CBS station in Anchorage.
Dan Etulain, of Sitka, founded KATH-TV in Juneau, and KSCT-TV in Sitka, and sold both to GCI on Nov. 1. He’s surprised GCI and KTUU are struggling to reach a deal.
“It was so simple, we thought. Just send a check.”
While Etulain is content to be on the sidelines of this particular contest, he’s still in the middle of making television. He owns one other Anchorage television station, and in Sitka he’s seldom seen without a video camera, providing 24-hour content for the local public access channel.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey met recently with Etulain and has this profile.
Although his empire is smaller, he may be the closest thing we have in Southeast Alaska to our own Rupert Murdoch.
But Dan Etulain isn’t in the news – he’s too busy making it. Selling the two stations is his version of scaling back.
“My primary interest is community TV. Actually NBC here was primarily a translator of our Juneau station – it just repeated. I didn’t have much to do with it,” Etulain said. “Also, we could pay off a few bills. And my wife has moved to Bellingham, so I go see her about three or four times a year.”
That would be Kathy Etulain, the former director of the Sitka Campus of the University of Alaska Southeast. K-A-T-H-Y: Etulain’s inspiration for KATH-TV in Juneau. But, I digress:
“And so it was a matter of convenience. And I still own the station in Anchorage, and spend a lot of time making trips to Anchorage,” he said. “The call letters are KACN. And it’s a very small, independent station.”
When Etulain is not taking care of his remaining television station, he’s filming meetings, concerts, school programs – just about anything – and putting it on cable channel 11 in Sitka, something he’s done for the last 16 years.
Etulain first bought now-defunct KIFW-TV in 1983.
“So I started TV 30 years ago,” as his second career. He came to Sitka in 1971 to be the first full-time dean of students at Sheldon Jackson College. (The college closed in 2007.)
Also, 31 years ago, Dan Etulain became a founding member of the board of KCAW-FM, Sitka’s public radio station. A seat which he still holds.
Throughout our conversation, Etulain never mentioned the “R” word.
“I’m not interested in retirement. I like what I do. It’s not only a job, it’s kind of a fun thing to do. It’s my hobby.”
Rupert Murdoch should be so lucky.
- A new federal rule will ban smoking in public housing nationwide. The notice was released Wednesday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and will take effect in 18 months. But Alaska is looking to do that a lot sooner.
- FBI statistics show the number of hate crimes is on the rise nationally, but very few are reported in Alaska.
- Auke Bay Elementary nurse Luann Powers says lice are mostly a nuisance and explains how parents should deal with them.
- Alaska's leaders are getting ready for tough negotiations over how the state will deal with its multibillion-dollar budget hole. How much the oil and gas industry should help fill that hole will be an especially controversial question for the legislature this session.