Prepping for Doomsday: Alaskans, Including Fairbanks’ Craig Compeau, Make Reality TV Debut
The National Geographic film crew takes a break near Fairbanks. Photo courtesy of Don Kubley.
FAIRBANKS — A pandemic. An electromagnetic pulse. A seismic shift on the New Madrid Fault Line. A supervolcano sprouting from Yellowstone National Park.
It’s these potential disasters that have a subset of America’s population on edge, convinced that life as we know it will be altered for the worse sooner rather than later. It’s also this population of Americans who have found fame and national attention thanks to one of the top-rated broadcasts on reality TV — National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers.”
For Fairbanks resident and business owner Craig Compeau, it was a natural fit — the chance to dabble in the world of a hit TV show and to showcase his business, Compeau’s, which sells boats, snowmachines, ATVs and other outdoor equipment. Compeau, along with his daughter, Emily Wood, and longtime friend and Juneau resident Don Kubley are making their debut on the reality TV show on Tuesday night, cast as Alaska preppers seeking shelter from the end of the world.
“Doomsday Preppers” is NatGeo’s top rated show — more popular than “Alaska State Troopers” according to Nielsen ratings — and a big draw for the survivalist set. It features segments on people who are preparing for an apocalyptic event of some kind, be it government overthrow, a series of F6 tornadoes, massive tsunamis, or people like Compeau, who worries of an economic collapse of the government. It has a 60 percent male audience with an average viewer age of 44. It is available in 143 countries and seen in more than 160 million homes and in 25 languages. It’s those statistics that caught Compeau’s attention.
“Out pops that damn capitalist in me,” Compeau said.
In August 2012, Compeau got a call from his friend Don Kubley from Juneau. Kubley owns a company named InterShelter Inc. that produces a pop-up storm shelter. Because he sells his instant shelters to many preppers, the publication Business Week featured him in an article in August about the prepping phenomenon.
As a result of the article, an executive producer of National Geographic Television contacted Kubley and asked if Kubley would consider allowing NatGeo to feature Kubley and his domes in one of their “Doomsday Prepper” episodes. Being a businessman, he agreed, and NatGeo asked where they would shoot. Of the many domes around the state, Kubley chose the one he and Compeau use every year for moose and caribou hunting near Fairbanks. Kubley thought it would be a great opportunity for him to display his buildings and for Compeau to show off his SJX river boats, which are designed to easily travel Interior Alaska’s shallow rivers.
“Since Don and I already sell our unique domes and SJX boats all over the U.S, Canada, Russia and several European and African countries, I could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a couple 30-second TV spots on the show to promote my SJX boats, or hmm, we could buy a few extra steaks and another case of beer, take these five New Yorkers out for the white-knuckle ride of their lives, show off our boat to millions of people, and have a lot of fun with a great crew from NatGeo,” Compeau said via email. “And for five days immediately after hunting season last fall, that is exactly what we did.”