May 30, 2020

Central Maine stations in limbo> Sports programming unchanged

In July, officials at Mountain Wireless said they were in “kind of a state of suspended animation” when it came to the sale of four central Maine radio stations to Midwest-based Cumulus Media.

More than three months later, nothing has changed. If this keeps up, they may have to substitute hibernation for suspended animation.

At least for two of the stations involved in the sale – all-sports WSKW (1160 AM) and WHQO (107.9 FM) in Skowhegan – the sale hasn’t adversely affected their programming.

“We’re still strongly committed to providing a strong local package including high school boys and girls basketball this winter, but we’re really kind of in a holding pattern right now,” said program director Mike Estrada.

For unknown reasons, the sale still hasn’t officially gone through yet. As a result, a management structure for the new ownership group hasn’t been put in place.

Estrada was unable to comment on the status of the sale.

“We’ve just kind of been loping along here during the football season. I don’t really know what we’re going to be doing,” he said.

Local coverage hasn’t been affected as “The Score” has aired football games each week featuring Skowhegan, Waterville, and Lawrence High School as well as some soccer games. It will also do some field hockey playoff games.

When it comes to coverage of pro sports, the sound gets a little distorted.

“We’re into our fourth year as a network affiliate for the Patriots on WBCN Rock Radio Network, but the [NBA] lockout has put the Celtics in limbo,” Estrada explained.

Estrada said there’s nothing official in the works, but there is a strong possibility either WHQO or WSKW will pick up coverage of Boston Bruins games to fill the Celtics’ gap.

One thing the sale has done is extend the one-year hiatus of Score Talk, the live, one-hour talk show featuring local callers and an emphasis on the key football games of the week.

Both WHQO and WSKW are still offering an hourly, five-minute segment called The Kickoff Monday through Friday. Three of the six segments per day are new while the rest are repeated.

As far as the rest of the stations’ 24-hour programming, The Score still airs The Fabulous Sports Babe Show 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and picks up the Sports Fan Radio Network the rest of the time.

Monday night’s game between the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona featured a lot of names familiar to University of Maine hockey fans.

The game, which was broadcast locally on TV (WSBK Boston) and radio (WZON Bangor), seemed more like a Black Bears alumni game than an NHL regular season game with three former Bears on the ice, one in the broadcast booth, and one behind the bench.

Peter Ferraro scored the Bruins’ goal in a 3-1 loss, while former Bruin Bob Corkum and Keith Carney starred for Phoenix.

Calling the action was ex-Black Bear Bob Beers, who is now in his second season as radio color analyst at Boston’s WEEI, the Bruins flagship station.

The other ex-Bear was Coyotes assistant coach John Tortorella, who played for Maine in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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