Unalaska Community Broadcasting has covered local news for the past 20 years.
To mark the newsroom's anniversary, KUCB is spending every Thursday of 2019 looking back at our former reporters and sharing some of their stories.
In January, we focused on Jim Paulin. He served as the first news director in the late 1990s when the radio station was still known as KIAL.
Paulin sat down with KUCB's Laura Kraegel to reflect on his early career.
JIM PAULIN: So when I first started at KIAL in 1998 as the first news director, they didn't have much of an antenna like they do now. They had a transmitter inside the city powerhouse. And outside, they had a system that looked like a clothes line, I thought. It was a couple three power poles with a line connecting them. Eventually, they upgraded to an antenna like you see now up on Haystack. It took several people to put it up, but it didn't take a crane. I was kind of surprised. It took just three people, and I was down on the ground pulling up one length of tower over another one. Maybe someone was helping me, and maybe the other person was up connecting it. So that was one of the technological steps in the evolution of Unalaska Community Broadcasting that I personally participated in.
KUCB: Did you see any other big changes while you were at the radio station?
PAULIN: Let me see. I remember the office furniture upgrade. The library moved into the new building, and they moved the couch from the old library on the ground floor of the Burma Road Chapel into the news office. So that was a furniture upgrade. We used to have surplus vehicles from the city. We'd use these Ford explorers. So that was the company car. When I was at KOTZ in Kotzebue, the company car was a four-wheeler. The engineer had priority on it, then the news director had second priority.
KUCB: That's amazing. I wish we had a four-wheeler that I could motor around on for stories.
PAULIN: You couldn't do it here! Because it's too developed.
KUCB: I know!
PAULIN: In those places, that's a common mode of transportation.
KUCB: So that was in Kotzebue, you reporting from a four-wheeler. And you worked in Dillingham. What ultimately brought you to Unalaska and kept you here?
PAULIN: Oh, I don't know. It's just a pretty vibrant place. People from all over the world. It's hard to say.
KUCB: Just something about it?
PAULIN: Yeah. Fisheries are pretty interesting. Changes season to season. Quotas go up, quotas go down. Oh! Something else is: It's really important to have reporters on the ground and living in these communities, because you don't get much coverage compared to larger communities where there are reporters all the time. Sometimes, something big will happen. Something really bad. A boat sinks. People die. So then Anchorage media will come down, even media from around the country, with all this news about "maritime disaster of the year." And if there wasn't somebody at the paper, somebody at the radio station here, you just wouldn't hear about it. So it's really, I think, important to maintain reporters in these communities.
KUCB: On that note, you've been in this community a long time. Covering the local news for a long time, first for the radio station and now for the Bristol Bay Times/Dutch Harbor Fisherman newspaper. Do you see yourself sticking around here and doing this job for some more time to come?
PAULIN: Well, for the foreseeable future. I never said I was going to be here forever. But when I got here in ‘96, I didn't know how long I'd be here for, but I'm still here. Sometimes I had to do other things. I worked for the Census one time. I worked for the Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. I worked on the docks for a long time! As a dock worker for the longshoremen and several shipping companies. I'm kind of too old for that stuff now, but I'm still trying to figure out what to do next. I might have procrastinated on some things. You know, it's a lot of water under the dam. The dam's washed out all over the bridge. The bridge is washed out. It's all running downstream. It comes back and rains and you're on an island and you're surrounded by water. Water, water, water. Maybe it rains on me again and I'll get an idea. You know, I'm 63. I've got more behind me than ahead of me this time. But I've still got a lot ahead of me.
Listen to some of Jim Paulin's reporting from 2001: