Just one month short of a six-year run as a sportscaster at Bangor television station WLBZ (Channel 2), John Smist is putting the threat of blizzards and snow days in his rear view mirror as he heads to North Carolina.
Smist will become the new weekend sports anchor at WECT in Wilmington, N.C. The last day at WLBZ for the Hermon native was Thursday.
“I guess the biggest selling point for me was, A) the location,” said the 31-year-old Smist, who was hired at WLBZ on Feb. 4, 2004. “And people just love the area and the climate and everything down there.”
Smist found out about the position through colleague and former Bangor sportscaster Tim Baier, who’s now working in Charlotte. Smist interviewed for the position via phone and was hired without even having to interview in person. He and wife Alyson are driving down to the city of 100,000 on Monday.
“Typically during the week I’ll be doing sports features and then I’ll be doing more anchoring on Saturdays and Sundays,” Smist said. “They haven’t had a No 2 guy there for a couple months and the sports director, Bob Bonner, wants to be back in the field more, so that’ll give me an opportunity to anchor on weekdays occa-sionally.”
Wilmington is the 132nd-largest TV market in the country. Bangor’s ranking is 154.
The 1996 Hermon High School graduate, who earned a speech communications degree from Syracuse University in 2000, said he’s looking forward to getting in a lot more time on the golf course.
WLBZ general manager Judy Horan said her station has already been looking for a replacement for Smist, who provided four weeks’ notice, but there is no firm timetable to hire someone. Horan said they’ll hire the best person for the job, no matter how long it takes to find a suitable candidate.
Smist said his personal highlights from his stay at WLBZ included covering high school tournament games, covering the Patriots in 2007, attending the 2008 Super Bowl, and covering University of Maine hockey.
“The first month I was here, I covered Maine hockey in Albany for the playoffs and kept following them as they won,” he recalled.
WZON cranking up hot stove
Boston Red Sox radio announcers Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien will headline the seventh annual WZON Hot Stove Baseball Night on Jan. 25.
The free, 2½-hour event — which also features free food, sponsor booths, and door prizes — is put on by Bangor all-sports radio station The Sports Zone (WZON, 620 AM) and will be held at the Bangor Civic Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Castiglione, who will call his 28th season of Red Sox baseball, has attended the event each year. O’Brien is entering his fourth year as Castiglione’s partner and is well known for his work on ESPN television and radio, where he does play-by-play for Major League Baseball, college basketball and NBA broadcasts.
Fans interested in attending must get a ticket to get in. There is a limited number available and tickets can be obtained three different ways: calling into the station to win a pair after hearing the on-air cue to call, sign up at local area sponsors for drawings to win, or donate blood Jan. 22 at the American Red Cross donor center at 900B Hammond Street in Bangor and be entered into a drawing to win one of several pairs.
The list of local sponsors where you can sign up for tickets includes Allenfarm Fence Company, Bangor Daily News, TBA (Tires, Batteries and Accessories), Quality Jewelers, Muddy Rudder restaurant, Dead River convenience stores, Beef O’Brady’s, EBS Building Supplies, JR Redemption Center, Bangor Tire Company, The Furniture Gallery, Van Raymond Outfitters and American Red Cross.
Whitehead show on the road
The Black Bears Radio Network’s Coach Whitehead Radio Show will go on the road to Portland two of the next three weeks.
The weekly show airs Mondays at 7 p.m. on nine area stations, including flagship station WAEI (97.1 FM) in Bangor, and online at www.goblackbears.com and usually is broadcast live from Hero’s sports pub in Bangor.
UMaine hockey head coach Tim Whitehead’s show will air Jan. 14 and Jan. 25 from the Sea Dog Brewing Company in South Portland. There will be no broadcast on Jan. 18.
Other stations include Bangor’s WABI (910 AM), Augusta’s WFAU (1280 AM) and WCME (96.7 FM), Houlton’s WBCQ (94.7 FM), Millinocket’s WSYY (1240 AM), Rockland’s WRKD (1450 AM), Skowhegan’s WIGY (97.5 FM), and Portland’s WJJB (96.3 FM).