Bangor stations drop WEEI

Posted Jan. 15, 2010, at 9:44 p.m.

Just 16 months after Boston sports radio bounced into the Greater Bangor listening area, the air has been let out of the ball.

Due to a breach of contract issue, the parent company of Bangor sports radio stations WAEI (97.1 FM) and WABI (910 AM) have terminated their contracts to carry programming from Boston sports station WEEI (850 AM).

“Basically what transpired is WEEI was served notice by us that they’d breached their contractual agreement with us,” said Bruce Biette, vice-president and chief operations officer for Blueberry Broadcasting. “Under the terms, we had to notify them and they had 30 days to cure the breach.

“They did not, by the end of that time and after we sent them another notice informing them they had not cured it, and we terminated our contract.”

Biette would not divulge the exact nature of the breech, although he said the violations started over a 30-day period in December.

Starting Monday morning, WAEI and WABI switched to Fox Sports Radio Network programming to fill the WEEI gap from 6 a.m. to midnight.

An official comment e-mailed from WEEI vice-president Jason Wolfe on Tuesday reads as follows:

“Unfortunately, our affiliate in Bangor chose to end its contract with us yesterday. Since then, we have received thousands of calls and e-mails in protest. We’re actively looking for a new affiliate to serve our Bangor audience and hope to be back on the air in Bangor soon.

“In the meantime, we encourage our Bangor listeners to stream us at WEEI.com”

Biette said if not for breaching the contract terms, Blueberry would still be broadcasting WEEI’s programming as the current contract still had three years and eight months left to run. He also said he does not expect to resolve the dispute and views the termination as final.

“It is a done deal,” he said. “We will not be airing the WEEI sports radio network. We’ve moved on to another programming provider.”

That means popular shows such as Dennis and Callahan in the morning and segments like live interviews with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the Whiner Line will no longer be aired in the local market.

Biette admitted the stations and Blueberry Broadcasting have received a lot of feedback from listeners.

“There’s no question we’ve heard from listeners,” Biette said. “We’ve heard from both sides, with more from those upset to see them go, but we’ve also heard from those who prefer Fox.

“The reality is there were a lot of people who liked the format, but under the current situation, we had no option other than to take it off.”

Fox was already providing the programming on WAEI and WABI overnight from midnight to 6 a.m. The new daytime programming includes talk shows hosted by Chris Myers, Jim Rome and Dan Patrick.

Time Warner grabs Red Claws

Time Warner Cable has acquired the rights to air Maine Red Claws games live on its local cable access channels in most of the state.

Viewers with access to Time Warner Cable channels 9 (Portland/Southern Maine, Augusta/Central Maine, and Presque Isle/Aroostook County), 12 (Bangor and Downeast/coastal) or 21 (New Hampshire) can now watch selected Red Claws NBA Developmental League games at home. The next broadcast will be Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The current schedule calls for eight game broadcasts.

“That could change,” said Time Warner cable communications and public affairs specialist Andrew Russell. “There is the possibility of more, especially if they make the playoffs.”

aneff@bangordailynews.net

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