WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Former University of Maine women’s basketball player Ashley Underwood is far from uncomfortable in front of a microphone or camera.
As Miss Maine USA 2008 and a Miss USA pageant contestant, the 25-year-old Underwood has become accustomed to the glare of the spotlight as well as answering questions.
Asking the questions is something completely different, however, as the Benton native has discovered first hand as a sideline reporter for the America East TV network.
“I’m used to getting interviewed, not interviewing someone else, so I thought it might be a little difficult, but people have been helpful and it’s been going really smoothly,” Underwood said. “The hardest part is the technical things with the equipment and cameras. I didn’t go to school for this so it takes some getting used to,”
Underwood, who interviewed personalities and officials during pregame, timeout, and halftime segments at last weekend’s America East tournament, was recruited for the job by AE commissioner Patrick Nero.
“I still go to a lot of Maine games and support them, and I caught up with Patrick at the last home game of the season and he asked me about doing it,” she explained.
The games aired live online at www.americaeast.tv as well as on selected regional networks and local TV stations.
While she really enjoys the job, she says it’s not all fun.
“The best part of the job is I still feel connected to the athletes and I still feel involved in basketball, which I love,” Underwood said. “The tough part is wearing high heels and these stuffy suits all day.
“I want to put sweatpants on so bad right now. I’ve been here since 10 and my feet are swollen, but it goes with the job.”
The former 1,195-point scorer at Maine and high school nurse now works for Click Models of Boston.
“I’ve been really, really busy this winter. I work about half of the month and commuting back and forth to Boston tires you out,” she said. “It’s a lot of promo modeling, but since I’m on the short side at 5-8, I do a lot of print stuff. I’m not tall enough to do runway.
“I’ve done stuff for tanning companies and promo stuff for nonprofit agencies like the bone marrow registry.”
Underwood says it’s weird seeing herself on camera as an interviewer.
“You kind of want to pick yourself apart,” she said. “Because of my pageant experience, I feel really comfortable in front of the camera and I know the game of basketball, so it’s easier for me to talk about that than pageant things.”
Nero says Underwood has been a good fit as one of the AE’s own.
“She’s great. She knows the game. It’s really important that you give the career opportunities to your own and she’s one of us,” he said. “We work with ESPN and we have a media consultant and I said, ‘we’ll just get you some experience and then we’ll have them sit down with you and go through the tape with you.’”
NASCAR radio crosses finish line
Seven years after relocating from one radio station to another, Blueberry Broadcasting has waved a checkered flag on NASCAR racing action altogether on their local radio stations.
“We finished airing NASCAR in November when the season ended, and that ended the current contract,” said Bruce Biette, vice president and chief operating officer for Blueberry Broadcasting. “We made the determination on two factors: We didn’t believe there was a strong listener interest on the radio for it and we know there wasn’t enough sponsor support out there to run it. I believe we’ve had maybe 10 inquiries about it since we stopped airing the races.”
Most recently, live NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage and races aired on Belfast station WBFB (104.7 FM), but had also aired on Rockland station WMCM (103.3 FM).
“We inherited that contract from ClearChannel, but eventually had to decide if we wanted to re-up with NASCAR,” Biette said. “It’s such a huge commitment when you run NASCAR because of the length of races plus the prerace shows, which can easily account for five or more hours on a weekend. It’s a major commitment we just decided we couldn’t make.”