Cindy Massie grew up in Unalakleet, the daughter of Clarence and Guerie Towarak. Her Inupiaq name is Agnaqhiq after her great-grandmother. Cindy graduated from Covenant High School in Unalakleet and attended Seattle Pacific University. Early on, she did work in the construction industry in Nome.
Tom Massie was born in East Los Angeles to George and Wilma Massie. His family moved frequently around the Pacific Northwest before he graduated high school in Fallbrook, California. He attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In 1968, Tom’s father founded the Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) – now the world’s largest recreational prospecting and small miner’s association. In 1982, GPAA started a recreational prospecting trip to Nome, which has brought over 15,000 participants to Alaska over the years.
Tom and Cindy met in Nome. Cindy was flagging and Tom kept driving by. Finally, Cindy turned her sign from ‘slow’ to ‘stop’ and the rest is history. In 1994, Cindy and Tom got married and founded The Outdoor Channel, a cable and satellite network with over 50 million subscribers. At first, the channel struggled. Tom and Cindy sold off just about everything they owned and mortgage their home. During this time they lived almost exclusively on salmon, but through hard work and perseverance, they eventually turned a corner, taking The Outdoor Channel public and listing it on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. In 2013, the Massie’s sold The Outdoor Channel to Stan Kroenke.
In 2004, the Massies formed a charitable foundation to benefit the people of rural Alaska. They have given more than $12 million to number charities and causes in Alaska. They have awarded more than $400,000 in higher education scholarships. Today, the Massie’s are retired. Their five children manage GPAA and their other businesses.