Even Stephen King’s business interests aren’t immune to the current economic climate, and that fact was illustrated Friday when Pat Spekhardt was cut as a full-time staff member at Bangor all-sports radio station WZON (620 AM).
A veteran of nine years at “The Sports Zone,” Spekhardt completed his last day as a full-time employee by co-hosting “The ShootAround with Jeff Solari” afternoon call-in show.
“The economy hits everyone and we’ve been insulated for awhile,” said Spekhardt, who has been a reporter and producer for the station. “We’ve made some cuts and done some things to cope.”
Spekhardt said program director Dale Duff told him he’d been in the fight of his life for six months, but they needed to make some cuts and Spekhardt was one of them.
Duff was reluctant to get into any specifics regarding the move.
“It’s a reshifting of what we’re doing based on how we cover the sports scene, based on the economy and what we cover,” Duff said.
Duff did confirm that Spekhardt will likely continue with the station on a free-lance basis.
“This isn’t a goodbye. I won’t be around as much, but I’m not disappearing. If the opportunity is there to do some things on a free-lance basis, I’d like to continue,” Spekhardt said. “A friend said they were surprised I’d even go back in the building.
“I was angry for a day, but then I wondered who I was angry at. I’m not mad at anyone in the building, so why wouldn’t I go back in?”
Spekhardt remains upbeat and even philosophical about his circumstances.
“There’s really very little I haven’t enjoyed. On your worst day, you’re watching baseball and getting paid for it. That doesn’t suck,” he said. “Hopefully, this is one of those situations where one door closes and another opens.”
Spekhardt has been given a generous severance package, but he would not divulge any details.
“The circumstances behind my departure are actually such that I can really take my time on finding another job or opportunity,” said Spekhardt. “I have some irons in the fire, so there’s no huge rush.”
A graduate of Bangor High School and the University of Maine (mass communications), Spekhardt worked at WZON from 1999 to 2003, first on a part-time basis then full time, before going to work for NewsinMaine.com in Portland. He stayed there for eight months but came back to WZON in 2004, at first as a part-timer be-fore being promoted later that year.
“In 2000, when I was first full time, we had four full-timers. I came back in 2004 part time at first and then full time again. Now we’re back to three for the first time in awhile,” he said.
Spekhardt, who also worked as an intern at Bangor television station WVII (Channel 7), said he’d like to continue in the sports broadcasting field, if possible.
“I’ve often said that if I ever ended up being the play-by-play man for the Sox, you’d have to sandblast the smile off my face,” he said. “I love play by play. I love researching games and telling a story.”