Monday, February 02, 2009

KTUU Channel 2's Highly Respected Steve McDonald Reportedly Fired By General Manager Susan Lucas In Anchorage, Alaska

Update February 13th: KTUU has re-hired Steve McDonald as news director, although he won't have an on-the-air anchor role. Susan Lucas appears to have taken some responsibility for the snafu.

On his daily program, KFQD's conservative talk show host Dan Fagan just revealed that Steve McDonald (pictured at left), the news director of KTUU Channel 2, Alaska's leading broadcast news outlet, has been fired on February 2nd, 2008 by the station's general manager, Susan Lucas, who herself earlier replaced Al Bramstedt. The Anchorage Daily News has now picked up on the story.

The podcast of Dan Fagan's show will be available HERE by 7 P.M. Alaska time tonight, and will remain up for 24 hours. He first announces the firing almost immediately during the first hour.

Dan Fagan has now explained that there was friction between Steve McDonald and Susan Lucas, which came to a head on Sunday February 1st. Lucas wanted late night anchor Mike Ross to do the local news cut-ins during the Super Bowl telecasts and the late news afterwards. McDonald wanted Jill Burke to perform both tasks. Apparently there was a mix-up in communication; although Ross did the cut-ins, Burke did the later newscasts. Fagan now reiterates this on The Alaska Standard. He believes this merely was the final straw and there could be other issues. To add insult to injury, Fagan has just told us that Lucas actually had Steve McDonald physically escorted from the building.

Susan Lucas confirmed the firing to ADN, but would not divulge details. She disclosed that her phone has been ringing off the hook, but opined that many callers had inaccurate information. Since Dan Fagan was the first to break the story, this implies that she's questioning the accuracy of Fagan's information.

The replacement news director is not an on-the-air news personality. The new lead anchor to replace McDonald is expected to be either Mike Ross, Jason Moore, or Maria Downey. My money is on Ross; he's a natural. And on tonight's 5:00 P.M. broadcast, Mike Ross was indeed anchoring.

Here's his official bio, while it still can be extracted from KTUU's website:

Raised in Ohio, Steve and his wife Jan came to Anchorage in February 1981. They were only supposed to be here for six months so Jan could finish a project for the oil company she was working with at the time, but one look at the Chugach Mountains changed all those plans and the couple decided to make Anchorage their permanent home.

Steve began his broadcasting career spinning records (yes, music was on records back in those days) at KABN radio in Big Lake. A few months later he landed a job with KNIK radio and doing sports play-by-play for its sister station, KBYR.

In 1982, Steve broke into the news business as a reporter at KTVA. Four years later he became news director, where he led a small but spirited group of journalists. At KTVA Steve worked for Alaska broadcasting pioneer Augie Hiebert. It was Mr. Hiebert who taught Steve that it's the job of a journalist to serve the public by providing good, solid and fair information. It's a lesson that's never been forgotten.

In 1996 Steve moved on to Channel 2 News -- a newsroom with the same kind of philosophy. At Channel 2 News, Steve is the news director, helping manage a news team that numbers more than 50. He also reports and anchors from time to time.

Steve has won a number of awards for his reporting, as well as two Regional Edward R. Murrow awards for documentaries that he wrote and produced. Steve and his wife Jan have three kids: Heather, Regina and Michael. Along with his family, Steve enjoys all sports, especially, baseball and playing hockey. He loves riding his mountain bike through Denali National Park and he prays fervently that some day his beloved Cleveland Indians will win the World Series.

You can still e-mail Steve with your support and sympathy HERE for the time being. There's also a Facebook site that will be devoted to Steve McDonald, now available HERE (thanks, Sandra).

You can also contact the station directly to express your opinion about McDonald's firing. KTUU's contact page is HERE (no published e-mail address for Susan Lucas):

-- Phone: 907-762-9202
-- Fax: 907-561-0874
-- E-mail
-- E-mail (Maria Downey, assistant news director)

I have just learned that Susan Lucas is no stranger to "abrupt terminations"; she abruptly resigned from a previous position as president and general manager of KVVU Channel 5 in Las Vegas in August 2004. No reason was given. Nonetheless, I hope that Lucas will step forth and explain this decision publicly. It could be that there's something we don't know. But from my perspective, Steve McDonald was a class act, totally dedicated to journalistic integrity. He wasn't the authoritative class A personality like his predecessor, John Tracy, but he was a consummate professional, and his professionalism rubbed off on the staff (although I wish Leyla Santiago would get rid of the frog in her throat when she speaks). As a matter of fact, it was during McDonald's tenure that Tracy Sinclaire finally became a professional weathercaster and stopped blocking the visual aids while she presents the weather.

Steve McDonald also moderated several candidate debates over the years. He was faultlessly professional and unbiased. He will easily find another job; this could be a potential opportunity for KTVA Channel 11 to hire him and instantly become a much more powerful competitor to Channel 2.


  1. Here's the Facebook fan page link:

  2. Thanks, Sandra. Just updated my post with the link.

  3. Great, now we get some corporate hack from the Lower 48 who thinks she's one of the Gods' gifts to broadcasting, coming to Alaska where she doesn't have a clue how the local market will react to this.

    This is a bad omen for her, firing an Icon right of the bat.

    Here's some dirt on her, why did she "suddenly resign" from her gig in Las Vegas ?

  4. Thanks for the Las Vegas tip; I've also worked it into my post. This lady sounds like a typical "headhunter" type.

  5. Found some more info on Susan Lucas. It appears she was somewhat of a political activist while in Las Vegas. She produced campaign ads for Judge Nancy Saitta, who has been accused of inflating her credentials and who received the lowest rating of any judges in a 2008 survey. She also produced a campaign ad for Nevadans Against Judicial Activism.

  6. Steve's bio at KTUU is already gone, she sure didn't waste any time! I know Steve and this is outrageous. His character is top notch. My best to him and his family and though I know he would not advocate this, I will not being watching channel 2 news any longer. Very sad :(

  7. He wasn't that great. And the way he said "about" annoyed me.

  8. steve macdonald is a wonderfull man and any one who says any differant can rot in hell alongside susan lucas. good luck with your raitings susan.. god knows youll need it.

  9. Anonymous at 8:47 p.m.

    Are you 'Susan Lucas' lurking in here?

    Who cares how Steve pronounced a word!?

    What matters is that he's been a great anchor and dedicated community for many, many years.

    Steve will be sorely missed by his viewers and I hope to hell he finds something better - or that the station cans Ms. Lucas and brings him back--SOON.

    Dan and Lisa in Girdwood

  10. You're right! They wasted no time purging Steve's bio. I was afraid of that - I'm glad I posted it here.

    What a cold-blooded way to give someone who's such a class act the boot! It is extremely difficult to maintain a neutral attitude towards Susan Lucas.

  11. based on the way each employees email naming conventions are setup. I'm willing to bed that Susan Lucas' email is

  12. Folks, if you think KTUU management (Lucas) is going to answer questions about the firing of an employee, you're dreaming. A company *cannot* discuss an employee's performance or status with the public without opening itself up to an easy lawsuit. Lucas may or may not want to air some dirty laundry about MacDonald, but if she's a pro -- or if she has pro HR/legal advice -- she won't say a word.

  13. To John Proffitt - I can understand what you're getting at. I don't expect her to go into details. All she would have to do is to issue one of those standard Palinesque statements about "taking the station in a new direction with new energy", simply to acknowledge Steve's long service as a journalist and his obvious value to the community.

    Between Sarah Palin and Susan Lucas, it's obvious that today's executives need some close order drill on how to terminate an employee with some degree of dignity.

  14. he must have been to white for susan, sad to see another white man lose his job. i predict his replacment will be a minority or a female, even tho whites make up less than 15 percent of the total worlds human population, which makes some cheer! yes we are the worlds minoritys.

  15. Complain by calling 1-574-247-7237 - ask to speak to Marci Burdick (senior vice president broadcasting at Schurz Communications, Inc.) about the ktuu issue...

  16. Accents DO matter in a newscaster. If you listen to national news people speaking, you'll hear that most of them have learned to overcome their regional accents.

    But, putting the problem of McDonald's accent aside, apparently people who think Steve McDonald was so wonderful and professional with his on-air speaking (reading) don't mind someone who bumbles, stumbles, stammers and just outright doesn't know how to pronounce a lot of common American English words. Some of the words I've heard him mispronounce are "often" (not off-ten), and "fatality" (not FAY-tality), just to point out a couple. The Alaskan pronunciation of Redoubt is not ruh-DOHT, as McDonald most recently said it, but RE-dout. Alaskans sure jump when we hear the tourists saying "See-ward" and "Val-dess". A resident newscaster should know how to pronounce local place names as the locals do. The news-gathering may have been OK, but the on-air presentation of it was not good.

    Hear how fluidly and intelligently Jackie Purcell speaks. She knows what she's talking about and what she wants to report. It shows. Except for Jackie, John Carpenter, Mike Ross, Lori Tipton and Jason Lamb, I wouldn't mind seeing a big turnover, or at least some evidence that these news people care about how to pronounce names and places in the national and international news, how to use proper grammar, and how to report without the "broadcasters' school of head-bobbing technique" and fits of giggles from time to time that are so annoying. I can hardly watch KTUU news and generally only tune in to see Jackie's second weather report.

  17. To Anonymous (who can't stand to listen to peoples' accents) - What is YOUR claim to fame?? And what accent would I have to listen to when YOU "speak your piece"?? By the way, I believe Steve spells his name "MacDonald" (rather than McDonald)

  18. My comment about accents was related to newscasters only, so it doesn't matter what my accent may be.

    The subject of the original post on this forum, by an apparent supporter, says, "Steve McDonald". I don't care how he spells his name. I'm not a fan. It was my intent to point out that he was not as professional as some seem to think, and that the high regard for him is not universal.

  19. While I believe Steve MacDonald is a true professional and absolutely worthy of respect, he wasn't the most talented and driven person at Ch. 2. But on a personal level, Steve is one of the kindest, most easy-going and genuine people I have ever known, and I liked him very much.
    I cannot imagine him getting into a heated disagreement with ANYONE. That brings into question the person who unceremoniously and seemingly without much consideration, fired him. It is EXTREMELY poor judgment, in my opinion, given Steve's popularity and longevity in the Anchorage TV market.
    I believe Susan Lucas has put herself and Channel 2 in a precarious position and cannot fathom as to how she and the station can redeem themselves or justify this firing. Channel 2 was unstoppable and unbeatable with Al Bramstadt as GM, John Tracy as News Director, Steve MacDonald as his assistant, and the much admired and beloved Maria Downey and Jackie Purcell in place. The only way Channel 2 would fall, was if Channel 2 imploded: success was its to lose. With the sale of this stalwart institution, its rock-solid place has, indeed, crumbled in on itself.
    I'm saddened by this reality. There are only a handful of stations with such a commanding history and dominance left in the country. And with Channel 2's downfall, there's now one less.

  20. The demise of Channel 2 News began when John Tracy left. Now Al Bramstadt's been replaced by this Susan Lucas from Las Vegas. New faces are showing up weekly - or daily! - and all are from the Lower 48. Due to the declining caliber of reporters and content of the stories, you can count us GONE as viewers. We're going to PBS where good news reporting continues.

  21. John Tracy was a hard act to follow, but I think Steve was doing an admirable job. He fit in well with the Channel 2 news team of long-timers--Maria, Jason, Jackie, Tracy and John. As to his pronunciation of certain words, I heard only a Canadian accent there, s it was charming.

    Seems to me KTUU management is doing its darndest to fix something that wasn't broken, and is suffering the penalty. Too bad.


  22. Seems like some people in Alaska really need to GET A LIFE.

    An outsider comes in and shakes things up. If you have a problem get out.

    Hope the new GM kicks all the lazy butts out of the building, cleans out the losers and creates a first class operation.

    McDonald sounds like a giant pussy. Any backbone? Then he comes crawling back.
    As for the rest? You all sound like you are so scared of being found out. You will be.

    From what I read on Lucas, seems having a highly succesful leader frightens those that can't pull their weight.

  23. Susan Lucas went through four news directors in three years when she was at the Fox affiliate in Las Vegas. She left a trail of destruction at that station. She has a sales background, not a news background, but she insists on running the newsroom as GM. Thank God she is no longer in the lower 48, please keep her in Alaska. She will destroy Channel 2 if she's there long enough.

  24. To the person who posted the comment above on 2-14-08. I'm not sure where you read that Lucas was a highly successful leader. She was fired from her two previous General Manager positions in Las Vegas and Charlotte, wait, oh excuse me, she "voluntarily resigned" from her two previous General Manager jobs. Lucas was unemployed for a couple years before being hired by channel 2 and there should have been red flags everywhere around her.

    It's like a business executive who runs a company into the ground and then somehow gets hired to run another company. Its absurd!!!

    Susan Lucas has been a train wreck at her two previous GM positions.

  25. There is some info out there on Lucas, it looks like she was employed about two years at a station in North Carolina before getting axed and she was in Las Vegas from 2002 to 2004 and got axed there too.

    It looks like nobody hired her after Las Vegas so she went four years without getting hired as a G.M. before the new owners of Channel two hired her.

    Sounds like a loose cannon. Good Luck channel two!!

  26. Why are you putting this crap on TV we hear too much without u. putting it own every chanle. I know A SHIT hapaned in anouther part of the world but. thats life can it.