What started as an idea hatched outside the Best Buy store in Bangor will become reality Sunday when The Sunday Sports Page debuts on Bangor television station WVII (Channel 7).
The hour-long sports talk show, which is airing Sundays at 11 a.m., will feature highlights from the week in local and regional sports, interviews, and a BDN “roundtable” discussion with co-hosts Pat Spekhardt and Brian Sullivan and one or two BDN sportswriters.
“The initial seed for this got planted from a conversation with Dan O’Connell about a year ago, a few weeks after I left WZON,” recalled Spekhardt, whose full-time position at then-all-sports radio station (620 AM) in Bangor was cut for budgetary reasons last November. “He’s working for Time Warner and they have a production house in Portland and Augusta, but nothing Bangor north.
“We thought we could put together something together as a production company. Eventually as this thing builds, we’d like to build our own studio and offices.”
Spekhardt, a producer and reporter at WZON for nine years, handles production duties as president of the new Crusader Communications while O’Connell, who is also a head football coach at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor and girls basketball coach at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, takes care of marketing and sales as vice-president and director of marketing.
“This show is one of about nine projects we have in development,” said Spekhardt. “We also talked to Time Warner Cable, but when we pitched it to Channel 7 they jumped all over it and we had a contract a week later.”
The contract calls for an initial 13-episode run, but specifies a full duration of 52 weeks.
“It’s basically a test run, but we’re fully confident we’ll be picked up for a full year,” said Spekhardt, who said there were many more I’s to dot and T’s to cross than he expected. “We took our time because we didn’t want to half-ass it right out of the gate. I did radio for so long, I’d forgotten how much there was to all the behind-the-scenes production.”
Spekhardt, a graduate of Bangor High and the University of Maine, envisions the show as a cross between a weekly SportsCenter and ESPN’s The Sports Reporters show.
Sullivan, a fellow UMaine grad from Bucksport who is WVII’s sports director, sees elements of Comcast SportsNet New England’s Sports Tonight show in the new program.
“It should only take a week or two to work out the kinks and have it be not just an informative show, but also fun, which is what we really want,” Sullivan said. “I also think having the BDN involved gives it some extra insight and gives the writers a chance to comment as well as give the public a chance to get to know them better.”
The show is a project that has been percolating in O’Connell’s head for awhile.
“Yeah, but it wasn’t until I started coaching basketball at Nokomis and seeing what they were doing there with Warrior Broadcasting that I got a feel for how important these local sports are to people and how this could work,” O’Connell said. “As a high school and college athlete, and more notably as a coach here in this area, sports has been a huge part of my life, so this is another avenue for me to be involved in it.
“The other thing is being able to give back and do it locally with people you know.”