How to be Famous in Alaska with Atz Kilcher - HAP #33

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This week we sit down with Atz Kilcher. You probably know Atz as the star of the "Alaska: The Last Frontier" reality tv show on Discovery Channel. You may not know that Atz is also an artist, a musician, a retired social worker, and a veteran. In this episode we talk about everything from his complex childhood on the homestead, people's misconceptions about living a simple life in the woods, being defined as the son of a famous father and father to a famous daughter, his children and how they've had to adjust to Jewel's early success as an internationally-renowned musical artist, talking about and coping with an abusive father, writing his memoir, and why the Kilcher family has made a splash in entertainment for so many generations.

Atz is having a First Friday show for his Flower Baskets at Bunnell Street Arts Center on Friday, March 6th!

We also talk to South Peninsula Hospital Physical Therapist Kristen Rubio about the power of pilates and the importance of stretching in injury prevention and Alex and JJ talk The Alaska Show and Homer events.

Stay tuned for our one-year anniversary party on March 21st at Alice's Champagne Palace! Music by Robert Toner, prizes, games, and guests from Homer's thriving entrepreneurial scene!

Introduction (1:28)

South Peninsula Hospital Rehab - Kristen Rubio (14:10)

Interview with Atz Kilcher (19:03)

Show Notes


The artwork and name of the podcast has been changed to “The Alaska Show”

The Alaska Show Podcast and The Homer Alaska Podcast episodes are available under that show – episodes still released weekly!

Podcast now available on Google Play

Our anniversary party is on March 21st at Alice’s from 8-11pm! Games, prizes, music, special guests, and a great time!

Rehab – Kristen Rubio, PT

Physical Therapist specializing in pilates to help her clients

Discusses history of pilates and what makes it so effective as an exercise therapy.

Specific injuries and programs that she will address with pilates.

Injury tip – don’t forget to stretch!

Atz Kilcher Interview

Retired music educator, veteran

Atz’s baskets are going to be featured in Bunnell First Friday event on March 6th with another local artist – the show is called “Flower Baskets”

Does Atz still feel defined by his relationships with his famous father and daughter?

Sometimes Atz is recognized before his daughter now after the success of Alaska: The Last Frontier

Being famous is a skill – people either improve and grow from it or they let it go to their head

Started in music doing music shows in Anchorage and around the state with ex-wife Nedra and performing on radio.

When Yule Kilcher came from Switzerland in the 1930s to get away from the rising Nazi influence in Europe he made a movie about the Kilcher homestead so he could start a community.

The homestead where Atz grew up was simultaneously a beautiful, happy place and an abusive home environment as a result of his father’s actions.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have actually living and growing up on a homestead? “Happiness is the inner work you do, not living in the woods”

Atz was born in Switzerland and he went back when he was 10 so his dad could show the film. For two years he and his siblings got in lots of trouble.

Got drafted and shipped off to Vietnam. Lied about having a sleepwalking illness to get out of the draft and told a World War 2 veteran who turned him in.

Used to be a practicing Mormon. Converted when he was 17 because all of his friends’ families were Mormon. Dropped out when he was 35.

Recorded first LP with ex-wife Nedra in’76. Recorded second in ’78. At that point there weren’t many recording artists in Alaska. Started doing family shows around the state until ’83 when he and Nedra split and he came back to Homer.

Music and horses saved Atz’s life – both meant independence.

Atz and Jewel played music around the state together until she was 16.

Nikos – Atz’s fourth child, grew up later than the other three. He only spent a year with Atz at age 16 growing up, but has the musical gene. He works for forestry and is a firefighter

The oldest son Shane was always was into building and arts and crafts and outdoors and worked with Atz doing social work. Today he works with kids in Homer.

Atz Lee is a singer-songwriter and an outdoorsman.

His sons have had to learn to live in the limelight of their sister.

When Atz wrote his memoir the biggest challenge was to tell the truth about his home life and not give it an air of self-pity. He is most proud of the comments he gets from men his age who thank him for his courage to talk about his home life and have given them the courage to talk about it as well.

It’s easier to think about stories from his childhood after writing the book and doing the audiobook.

Alaska The Last Frontier inception: Some folks from Discovery were in Homer looking for homesteaders and were introduced to the Kilchers. After a sizzle reel and some interviews they got a show. It all happened very quickly – less than a month. The team didn’t even know they were related to Jewel, although Atz suspected otherwise. The show is now on its 9th season.

A lot of the Kilcher family has made it into the entertainment industry.

A lot of the people who watch the show say they’ve learned something

Early in the show narrators relied on drama and high-stakes. Most people understand the Kilchers don’t need a moose to eat for the winter, but the show depicts how life on a true homestead is lived.

The old Homer still exists in Atz’s mind. It’s harder to know everyone and there is more development, but he’s happy it’s progressing.

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