July 16, 2020

Here’s a toast to the success of WZON-AM

Unlike almost everything else you have or have yet to read, watch, or listen to these last few months, this column will NOT be ushering in the new century. Protestations of pop culture aside, the current one doesn’t end for more than a year and the 21st doesn’t officially start until Jan. 1, 2001.

That formality obviously won’t stop anyone from coming up with a few resolutions and toasts as the first digit of the year changes from a “1” to a “2,” so here are a few of both for the sports-savvy television and radio junkies.

A toast to Bangor radio station WZON (620 AM) for successfully completing its fifth year of broadcasting an all-sports format. There were more than a few people present at the press conference held by station owner Stephen King, his wife Tabitha, and program director Dale Duff Aug. 6, 1993 who were more than a bit skeptical about the station’s chances of lasting very long with an all-sports format.

In fact, several people were overheard after the conference and during the next few days openly quoting long odds on whether The Sports Zone would survive for a year.

WZON began operations as a sports station that August, but didn’t officially switch to its current 24-hour, all-sports format until the summer of 1994.

Still, by whatever anniversary date you go by, five or six years is an impressive feat.

WZON hopped on the all-sports train at the right time as there was an unprecedented and rapid rise in the number and popularity of all-sports stations in this country in the early 1990s, but that trend alone doesn’t account for the station’s continued viability.

The Sports Zone has taken its share of subjective criticism here for biting off more than it can chew and airing enough JIP (joined in progress) games to drive a loyal fan mad, but for most sports fans, losing WZON would be akin to replacing their car with a horse and buggy.

WZON has aired 1,800-plus live broadcasts of Boston Red Sox, high school, and college sports. Hopefully, there are many more where those came from.

Supposed journalists like Dan Patrick should resolve to stop shilling for Coors beer and stick to sports reporting. Cashing in on your celebrity isn’t a bad thing unless it calls your objectivity into question. Appearing in an ad with John Elway – who Patrick has interviewed in the past and may well do so again – for Coors – a company that also happens to own the home field of the Colorado Rockies, a team ESPN (Patrick’s employer) regularly covers – does just that.

It’s a longshot, but it would be real nice for college football fans if Bangor TV station WABI would resolve to go back to airing CBS Saturday football games that start after 3 p.m. Admittedly, those among us who bleed orange-and-white and other collegiate colors are abnormal, but are there really that many people watching reruns of “Xena: Warrior Princess” or infomercials about car-buying programs for the credit-challenged on a Saturday afternoon?

Speaking of longshots, there are those of us still holding out hope that broadcast reporters will stop conducting interviews without asking a single question. They might wise up if coaches would react to someone saying “Great game coach” by simply answering “Yes, it was.”

Reporters need to reread the sign on Main Street and the marquee outside the Bangor Auditorium and resolve to refrain from calling it “The Mecca.” The Mecca is the former home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – not Bangor, Maine.

Happy New Year.

Andrew Neff is a NEWS sportswriter

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