After wandering the world for 30 years in the U.S. Navy, an East Machias couple has returned home with a single goal — to tell the stories of their beloved Washington County.
With David Wright behind the video camera and his wife, Virginia Wright, interviewing subjects and setting up their filming schedule, the team has launched www.CoastalMaineTV.com.
“’Your home, your town, your life’ is our motto,” Virginia said Tuesday.
The couple moved back home to Washington County six weeks ago, and within three days they were filming.
“We hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since,” David said. Their online station now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing a slice of Down East life.
With only six weeks of experience under their belt, the couple said they have been heartily welcomed by county viewers.
“But there is no question, we’re having a marvelous time,” David Wright said.
Their enthusiasm for the effort and pride in Washington County are evident as they excitedly talk about filming.
Showing off one of his stories on a laptop, David said, “Look at that. Do you believe it?”
The Wrights are not just invested in their broadcasts, they are passionate about them.
A cello player recently reduced Virginia to tears, while a memorial bike ride overwhelmed David.
From a Civil War encampment in Cherryfield to the opening of a new business in Whitneyville to a spur-of-the-moment interview with a musician on the Machias dike, the Wrights have a singular purpose: to preserve the small and large moments in time that make Washington County unique.
But the road back home was not without its potholes.
The Wrights were high school sweethearts and married young. Virginia was a preschool teacher, raising the couple’s two sons and writing children’s books while traveling around the world with David, who was on active duty in the Navy.
It was a happy life, Virginia said, and the couple loved their home and their busy social schedule. Then their entire world was shattered.
Virginia was diagnosed about 19 years ago with two types of life-threatening cancer, and the prognosis was guarded. Surgeries and treatments filled their days, and Virginia said her only wish was to see her sons graduate from high school.
That same year, in 2001, David bought a used, $10,000 recreational vehicle, took 30 days of leave from the Navy while they were stationed in Savannah, Ga., and embarked on what the couple calls “Virginia’s Farewell Tour.”
“He took me to Disney, to Maine, to Georgia,” Virginia said. “We went everywhere.”
Just as the family had nearly given up hope, Virginia responded to treatment.
“I fooled them all,” Virginia said. “Not only am I cancer-free, but I’m still here and now have five grandchildren.”
After David’s retirement, the family settled in West Virginia for a while, but this September, the couple decided to move back to Maine. Coming home meant being closer to family and to the place — Washington County — that they both love.
What better way to express that love, they thought, than by sharing it?
“We are focusing on Washington County because we felt it needed a voice,” Virginia said. “We believe there is such wonder here, such amazing people to meet. The magic of Down East doesn’t stop at Bar Harbor, you know.”
They film benefits, activities, human interest and historical pieces, as well as pageants and community events.
“We have no agenda,” Virginia said, “beyond telling the county’s stories.”
The international response to their venture has amazed them.
“Some of the stories have gone viral and moved all over the Internet,” David said. “We have no idea how many people are viewing.”
The site has followers in Ireland, England and France.
Snowbirds are already counting on the site to keep them from being homesick when they seasonally leave Washington County, they told the couple.
The couple doesn’t charge people to view their stories online, but they have advertising on their Web pages to help cover expenses. They continue to seek more advertising to help support the business.
As the business grows, it expands into newer and more cutting-edge technology, Virginia said. They are working with companies that provide players that connect to televisions and allow for Internet broadcasts to be played without computers.
“We feel like we are on a surfboard and the wave is technology,” David said.
The Wrights now are seeking three families that celebrate nontraditional or culturally different Christmases as well as local musicians who can provide background music for filming.
“Some of these people really have no idea how special they are,” David said.