Alaska Ear: Go to Black? (10/13/13)

GO TO BLACK? . . . The back-and-forths last week weren't all political. The TV war between Channels 2 and 11 is steadily escalating. The state's largest cable company, GCI, and KTUU are in unusually tense contract negotiations that threaten to pull the plug on Channel 2 News in nine Bush communities.

The North Slope, Kotzebue, Kodiak, Bethel, Valdez, Nome, Cordova and two others reportedly got letters warning of the change if the parties fail to strike a deal by Wednesday.

In dueling press releases, GCI claims KTUU wants beaucoup bucks to let GCI carry Channel 2 News, and Channel 2 says it's offered its programming to GCI free through December 2014

Ear has no idea what's really going on, but with nature's blackness closing in, losing weather babe Jackie Purcell could send the men of rural Alaska into deep depression.

Normally Ear would assume this is just posturing, but the backstory has changed since the last contract negotiation. GCI owns Channel 11 News -- or will once the FCC comes back to work and clears the purchase -- and is ramping up to give market leader 2 a run for its money. So maybe GCI doesn't care so much if it loses Channel 2?

In the meantime, adding insult to injury, GCI says it may replace KTUU news with "STARZ Kids and Family."

Don't ask.

SWEATING IT OUT. . . The private gym used by members of Congress has so far escaped government Shutstorm 2013 (tip of the hat to Jon Stewart for naming it). Thanks to the Hill newspaper, we now know that the gym is essential for Don Young, Congressman for All Alaskans except Ear and a Few Others, to maintain his masterful aplomb. Or as he put it: "This job is very stressful, and if you don't have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy, and that's why I've used it all these years."

Darling Don is bravely soldiering on despite having to pick up and reuse his own moist towels.

PLEASE FORWARD . . . Ear hates to reprise past items but this must be shared. One of those "personal" Treadwell $$$ solicitation letters -- the plea that puffs up the recipient as "one of Alaska's most committed Republicans" -- was sent to Judge Tom Stewart in Juneau.

The judge seems unlikely to respond any time soon. For one thing, Stewart was a founder of the Alaska Democratic Party.

And, oh yes, he's dead. For quite a while.

The judge, a former state senator and one of the brains behind our Constitutional Convention, died in 2007. (It was in all the papers.)

Need the Divine Appendage say more about the wisdom of investing in updated mailing lists?

ON THE MOVE . . . Jake Ryle, sports reporter for KYUR/KTBY, is leaving Alaska for the CBS affiliate in Johnson City, Tenn.

Why would someone leave Anchorage, with its fabulous weather and proximity to the rest of the world? Perhaps because Johnson City is reputed to be one of the least expensive cities in the country. You know, affordable housing and below-average health care costs.

Oh, that.

JUST MOVING . . . A suite of new furniture bought this year for Senate President Charlie Huggins' Anchorage office is doing a vanishing act. Seems the spendy redo of the downtown LIO means everyone needs to clear out next month. And when legislators move back, it'll be 2015 and all modular.

So most of Charlie's desks, chairs, mirrors, tables, pillows -- $19,000 worth of stuff -- will be distributed around the Capitol in Juneau.

Among the items: a $2,189 executive desk and $2,075 credenza from Arctic Office products, $699 wing chairs and $110 pillows from Furniture Classics and three $87.99 "task chairs" from Costco.

Ear is informed the credenza was needed to display gifts from "heads of state" (giggle).

Huggins inherited former Sen. Bettye Davis' furniture, which had seen better days, an aide explained. Staff went furniture shopping before they knew the building was going to be gutted.

VOTE 'TIL YOU DROP. . . Barbara Brown's mother's noodle kugl is a finalist in a national contest by the Yiddish Book Center. Barbara is requesting that earwigs pile on with the votes so she and Mom, 88, can queen it up at a big open house in Massachusetts later this month.

Ear approves and has already voted twice: Go to, follow prompt to the contest, click on "vote," check "Tibby's noodle kugl." Ignore the requests for info, check "select."

Then do it again. (Pretend you're a Chicago voter.)

Compiled by Sheila Toomey Message Sheila at 257-4341 or

By Sheila Toomey |