April 06, 2020

WBGR rebounds after ice storms

The ice and snow storms of the past three weeks have been playing havoc with everyone’s schedules, but high school sports teams aren’t alone in their frustration.

The storm has scrambled the high school sports program schedule at Bangor Warner Brothers Network affilliate WBGR in Glenburn (Channel 33).

“We originally planned on 21 basketball broadcasts. Probably at least four of the postponed games we won’t be able to make up,” said James McLeod, WBGR’s general manager.

With 21 planned broadcasts, WBGR’s high school sports schedule is by far the most ambitious this season among local TV stations.

“We were able to make up one game and that gave us a run of, I think, four days in a row with games on,” McLeod said.

WBGR airs all its games on a same-day, tape-delay basis. For instance, a 7 p.m. game would air around 9 p.m. or later.

The jumbled schedule has been just one of many challenges the storms presented the station.

“We were off the air four days and running on a generator for the next two,” McLeod explained.

WBGR bought two generators that can generate as much as 10,000 watts and used them to run the studio, lights, master control room, and heat.

“We can be fully functional on our generators,” McLeod said. “We rotated them around to keep both our house and the studio building warm.”

The only thing the station doesn’t have a generator for is its transmitter, which was down for three days.

Even without the transmitter, WBGR was back on local cable Tuesday, Jan. 13. It returned to the airwaves the following Thursday.

“We escaped fairly well without too much equipment damage,” said McLeod. “Overall, I’d say we were pretty lucky.”

The Portland Pirates are not scheduled to appear on New England Sports Network for the first time in three years.

After making 16 appearances not counting playoff telecasts the last two seasons, the Pirates don’t appear on the schedule at all this year. NESN is in the midst of a seven-game package featuring the Providence Bruins, a fellow member of the AHL’s Eastern Conference.

Four of the games feature opponents from the New England Division, with which Providence is also affiliated. The other three involve members of the Western Conference’s Mid-Atlantic Division.

It’s ironic, considering NESN’s play-by-play man for AHL telecasts is Tom Caron, a Lewiston native and former radio voice of the Pirates.

Apparently, FrontierVision has been experiencing some growing pains after officially taking over Bangor-area cable television operations from Cablevision last November.

Just like its predecessor, FrontierVision irritated some NFL fans earlier this month when it inadvertently blacked out almost a half-hour of third-quarter action from an NFL second-round playoff game.

The NFC playoff game between Minnesota and San Francisco aired by the Fox Network on Sunday, Jan. 4, was interrupted for 26 minutes.

According to FrontierVision senior sales coordinator Shanna Willey, the glitch resulted from a faulty timer on “switcher” – a machine used to black out syndicated programs which are owned exclusively in the local market by Bangor television stations.

The same glitch occurred last October, causing the first 20 minutes of the Dallas-Philadelphia regular-season game to be blacked out by Cablevision.

Fortunately for NFC playoff watchers, the problem didn’t recur during Fox’s telecast of the Jan. 11 NFC Championship game.

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