WSAV Coastal Sunrise morning anchor Dave Kartunen’s long love affair with Savannah finally became a long-term commitment in September 2013.
Kartunen was first introduced to Savannah over Memorial Day weekend in 2000. After falling hard for the Hostess City while trying to break into television news, he vowed to take his career back here.
Ten months later, Kartunen joined the WSAV News Team as a news reporter and photographer, digging deep into local and state politics, covering the 3rd Infantry Division’s mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom and going on adventurous feature stories, like an open sea helicopter rescue with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Kartunen’s work caught the eye of major market news operations. After two years in Savannah, he was off to report and anchor the weekend morning news at WSVN in Miami. He did manage, however, to take some of South Georgia with him; he married his wife, Erin (a UGA Bulldog and South Georgia native) on Hutchinson Island. Their marriage was even recognized by the Georgia legislature!
The circus-like atmosphere of the South Florida television market sent Kartunen chasing after Michael Jackson in the mall, searching for a loose tiger in a Palm Beach neighborhood and encamping in the Bahamas for a month during the bizarre probate and paternity case of Anna Nicole Smith. More importantly, he reported on location at some of the highest-profile stories of the past decade, including Pope Benedict’s only visit to the United States, the Virginia Tech massacre, and President Obama’s Iowa Caucus victory, DNC convention speech in Denver and election night party in Chicago in 2008.
WSVN also sent Kartunen through fifteen hurricanes and tropical storms, including Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. His experience in the Gulf would lead him to raise awareness among young journalists about the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its impacts.
After six years in Miami, Kartunen moved to WSVN’s sister station in Boston, WHDH, where he served as the weekend evening news anchor for two years. The move was a homecoming of sorts, as he had earned his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Boston University.
Kartunen would go on to join the faculty at Boston University as a Lecturer in Journalism in the College of Communication. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business and has worked extensively as a communications and image consultant for corporations, non-profits and political campaigns.
More than a decade after his first visit to Savannah, Kartunen could no longer resist the pull of the Coastal Empire and is delighted to bring wife and two boys to live among family in his adopted hometown – this time, for good!
Kartunen has earned a number of awards and recognitions during his time at WSAV. In 2014 he earned a Southeast EMMY Award for Continuing Coverage for his work on the Affordable Care Act. He also won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from Radio Television Digital News Association for his Continuing Coverage of the Affordable Care Act. Kartunen was also awarded a Murrow award for Investigative Reporting for his coverage of Congressional Gift Travel.