The blogs we write about Maine properties, the local community flavor, videos we shoot, edit, post in marketing real estate now started with radio.
Broadcasting in a small market like a Houlton, Maine was a great job for a fourteen year old farm boy. The station WHOU, and two others in Calais and Millinocket Maine, were owned by early television pioneer Howdy Doody (Buffalo Bob) who had a summer place in Princeton ME.
My job as a one-man show was do everything from spin tunes, find lost dogs and cats, take out the trash, make sure the transmitter was turned to low power during lightning, and rip/read the news, sports, weather.
The Associated Press machine chattered and spit out the news. I always thought it odd that 99% of the news we broadcast was for starters, just read and not in the news makers own words. And two, mainly copy on events in the Maine cities and around the world. But not local. We had a station bunker bomb shelter constructed back in the cold war days. I thought if there was ever a nuclear attack at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, no one locally would know until it came over the wire. News locally went unreported unless called in to the AP and re-routed back to the announcer. If they took the time to check the wire.
When I entered college at the University of Maine at Orono, I landed a job at WLBZ radio 620 on outer Broadway in Bangor, Maine. Station manager Eddie Owen specifically sought employees from “The County”.
He figured my growing up on the farm meant I knew how to work, and I liked it. He was right.
WLBZ radio was just coming off an all-news format that had not scored well in the Bangor market Arbitron ratings. As we struggled to find a niche, a following on the return to the music dial, our news roots carried over in being more than a rip and read AP robot. Sound bites from the news makers themselves were aired. We would rewrite and edit three or four paragraphs down to two. Adding a local angle for home grown flavor and appeal, sparkle.
We had lots of local news aired around the clock in Bangor involving all the satellite towns, making us different. We were worth listening to. Besides our setup, only newspapers and television outlets were covering the local beat. I worked throughout the year, racking up many radio hours. I also attended UMO where I earned a broadcasting degree with heavy concentration in speech, film and advertising/marketing journalism courses.
WABI radio program director George Hale offered me more pay at a higher-rated station with the chance to get in to commercial production. I remember being the TV voice of the horse used in a series of Jack and Jean outlets around Bangor. Because channel 5 and sister country station WBGW were at the same facility, the option to learn more was all around me. The film animation courses I took at UMO came out so much more professional due to the access to editing and other enhancements at “Studio City” at 35 Hildredth Avenue near Pilot’s Grill. I was able to do every air shift. I even had to spend the night a few times. One morning, I had to open up the station for George Hale due to a major snowstorm that caused state police to order traffic off the road.
Eventually “Humble But None The Less Mighty John Marshall” called me while I was on the air at WABI. He offered me a job to come back to a new Z-62– A rock station with many of the former employees of WGUY that had come across town to breath new life in to the old WLBZ, Then WACZ and now WZON. I spun records as Andy Powers, and news as Andrew Powers. The new last “air” name– thought up by Mighty John–was meant to impress the president of Maine Broadcasting with that also shared my new last name.
I remember rolling in before 5 AM to get the station news ready for Mike Ohara, Tim Comer and eventually Mighty John. When news of a fire at the Greyhound bus stop and The Phoenix in downtown Bangor Maine hit the scanner after one newscast, I fired up my Pinto.
I raced downtown with a portable cassette recorder and microphone to capture the event’s fire engine sirens, the clanging of busy fire fighters and to interview the chief.
Later, I would learn it was an electrical fire, and two fire fighters developed smoke inhalation. A cat and a dog in an apartment had died.
Next, it was a race back to the station–Edit the sound bite–Write the wrap around copy. You did not hear me say “Bangor Fire Chief Daigle says this or that.” I would lead in with “Bangor Fire Chief Leo Daigle” and he would say the fire started on the second floor, “When we got to the blaze, the second floor was pretty much smoke filled, and the cold temperatures hampered our efforts to get water where we wanted it.” The sound bite was blended with natural event audio that put the listener at the scene with live captured sounds. Sirens in the background, windows being cleared, broken glass sound, fire fighters shouting and the fire venting process under way.
Barry Hobart, another Houlton boy that was the station’s sales manager, said he was stuck on the new third Bangor Brewer bridge in traffic, wondering what all the smoke was. Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” ended and the lead in story on his radio was the Z’s Bangor Fire Chief explaining what the hub bub was… and where all that smoke was coming from that Barry was wondering about. The best compliment was when he asked how did I get down to capture it, back to edit and air in in the less than 30 minutes between newscasts? I smiled and said “I’m from the County and hustle is something you and I learned growing up”. He grinned.
People tuned in listen to our news, even when they did not necessarily like our rock music. Our quarter hour ratings were off the scale because of this loyal “news” audience following. Our morning man Mike Ohara was from Houlton, Maine, too, just like Dale Duff, Pete Chambers, John Elliot and Mike Dow who worked the Bangor market. I also ran TV 2 camera for Eddie Driscoll and did the 6 o’clock news with Bill Green, Don Carrigan et al.
Suddenly, I realized I loved broadcasting, but to move up the ladder meant relocating every two years to places like WPRO in Providence, Rhode Island, and WRKO in Boston. I interviewed and was to be hired for a job at a Brunswick Maine station WIGY. But I had married a Bangor lady and decided I did not want our kids to grow up in the move to eventually outside of Maine. So, I took my real estate courses in Bangor, and for the last thirty years have listed, marketed, and sold real estate in Houlton ME. The broadcasting background and education from UMO served me well as video is taking over real estate promotion.
In 1980, the market was local. Your property buyers home grown, in the same town the property was parked. Now, the real estate playing field is worldwide. Instead of selling just the sticks and bricks, the area needs to be promoted to someone that has never been to Maine before. Local videos of sports, canoe races, local churches, the area banks, the hospital, soap box derby races all needed to be shot, edited, uploaded. I have close to 400 youtube videos and populate other sites along with posts on over 80 social media platforms we populated along with the blogs, podcasts, vidcasts. Here is a 9000 view example of the local Northern Maine Soap Box Derby Race, the largest for five years in a row in the entire nation. And here is a local hockey game video between two rival hockey teams, the Houlton Hodgdon Blackhawks and Presque Isle Wildcats. And one video showing how we sell Houlton Maine real estate.
The best program director that I learned the most from in Radio was Mighty John Marshall. It is not cocky if you can do it with his handle “Humble But None The Less Mighty John”. He handed us a dozen-page broadcasting “bible” much of which was from WJBQ, WLOB stints, gigs he had earlier in his Maine broadcasting career. It had advice for on air…don’t complain. Never tell customers to stay off the road on their way in a snowstorm to shop with the guy who pays your salary with his ad sales campaign that is underway during your shift. Never, never have dead air. Keep the levels hot. Talk less. Know what you are going to say, and when on the hour. And play the tunes, entertain, inform.