Maine’s Oldest Radio Station Goes Silent
by Al Diamon
WAEI went on the air in 1924 using the call letters WABI. It was the third licensed radio broadcaster in Maine, but the two stations that preceded it both shut down shortly thereafter. Over the years, the operation struggled through multiple owners, formats and spots on the dial, but became a ratings leader in the Bangor market in the 1950s, holding that position until the 1970s, when upstart FM stations pushed it aside. Blueberry bought it from Clear Channel Communications in 2008, switched the call letters to WAEI and began running sports talk programming, first from Boston’s WEEI and later from Fox Sports Network. Neither produced significant listenership or revenue, leading to the decision to close down.
Blueberry continues to operate 16 other Maine radio stations, including several in the Bangor market.
Blogger’s dilemma: My recent column on the state’s political columnists and their many conflicts of interest generated an interesting e-mail from a blogger. This person, a former journalist who often comments on local politics, was criticized by a rival blogger for failing to disclose his links to a prominent municipal official. This connection was no secret in the community, and the blogger derived no income from it or from his online musings.
He wrote, “Since: a.) I am no longer a professional journalist, b. my blog is just a one-man opinion piece, and c.) I am not paid a dime by the campaign, I was not worried about any ethical dilemma until this other blogger called me out (both on his blog and on his more well-known Facebook page).
“So, my question becomes, is there a disclosure requirement for amateur bloggers who volunteer on local political campaigns?”
No, there’s no requirement, just as, courtesy of the First Amendment, there’s none for the aforementioned political columnists. But there’s also no good reason not to disclose, since it enhances your credibility (you won’t look like you’re hiding something) and blunts attempts to attack you for having some sort of secret agenda.
When in doubt, disclose.
In addition to serving as The Bollard’s media critic, Al Diamon writes a weekly political column that runs in the Portland Phoenix, the Downeast Coastal Press, the Daily Bulldog, some Mainely Media weeklies and some Current Publishing papers. He also writes columns for a couple of Current’s magazines. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.