April 08, 2020

Heartfelt congratulations to WVOM radio station, whose disc jockeys should be numbered among the many heroes of the Ice Storm of ’98. They have done a wonderful job handling countless phone calls and getting people the help they need while offering a little bit of storm therapy and raising everyone’s spirits with their good-natured bantering.

Other stations, such as WABI and WWBX, also have done outstanding jobs. But it was WVOM that seemed to capture the greatest regional interest. Its service to Maine was doubly impressive given the atmosphere at some radio stations, where mindless chatter by self-important disc jockeys dominates the airwaves. WVOM showed how unnecessary this sort of program is. Instead, it did a superb job of bringing communities together, helping people by acting as a resource for anyone in need. The overwhelmingly positive response to this programming should persuade the station’s owners not to abandon their mission to serve Maine residents in this useful and entertaining fashion.

A storm of another sort took place Down East recently, with Bangor Hydro Electric and Indeck, owner of power plants there, disagreeing over how much Bangor Hydro would pay to get one of the plants started. This storm, too, appears to have passed. The presidents of the two companies agreed late last week that, should the power be needed, they could either come to an agreement on the price or find a third party that would help them. Given the prickly relationship between these companies and the importance of the product they provide, this change is good for everyone.

Taking up precious helicopter space that could have gone to a generator or some other useful object, Vice President Al Gore stopped by on Day 10 of the crisis to feel our pain, in a photo-op sort of way. Wearing official White House issue jeans and denim shirt, the Veep proceeded to grab a downed power line, thus doing incalculable damage both to work apparel sales and to the utilities’ massive safety campaigns. As a final shot, he connected the storm to his pet peril, global warming, thereby implying that Maine more or less asked for it by driving big cars and burning wood. We’d heard Mr. Gore was a bit stiff, but this mean streak is new.

Then there’s NBC Today Show weekend host Jodi Applegate, who, while interviewing Gov. King Sunday, suggested that things in Maine weren’t so bad since the whole state is mostly summer homes, anyway. The governor was quick to correct the perky anchor and those few Mainers who had power and hadn’t yet left for the condo in Boca Raton no doubt were quick to change the channel.

The dilemma of how to find a fresh angle to a story that’s getting old was demonstrated by a Maine TV station this weekend in a piece on the spirit of volunteerism sweeping the state. The remarkable chipping in, an expert in such matters said, is largely the result of “survivors guilt,” the psychological need of those unscathed by crisis to help out. Then, in an abrupt about face, the expert noted that since just about everybody is, in fact, scathed, the theory does not apply in this case. Oops. Never mind.

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