BANGOR, Maine — Thirty years into his media career, Towle Tompkins has decided to cross over from the broadcast business to the print side.
The former program director at Bangor TV station WABI and marketing director at Portland TV station WGME will take over as the Bangor Daily News’ sales and marketing director effective June 11.
“It’s a different challenge, but it’s the same challenge,” he said. “All media is just so similar now. The multiplatform aspect of it makes it closer to what I have been doing as opposed to me coming into this 15 years ago.”
Tompkins, 61, who is married to former WABI and WGME reporter Felicia Knight, has been the operations director for Portland-based Outside Television — formerly Resort Sports Network — for the last 12 years.
“I heard about this [BDN] job and thought it was an intriguing possibility, so I applied,” said Tompkins. “I heard they were looking to have someone who was thinking out of the box, and not necessarily someone who’s done print marketing and ad sales before.”
Tompkins said the job is both a challenge and an opportunity.
“Whether it’s a display ad, preroll before a story comes up [online], commercials, links, banner ads, it has to be targeted, interesting or compelling, and it has to make the advertiser’s business grow in some fashion,” he explained.
Tompkins came to Maine following a two-year radio stint in New York. He took the program director’s job at former WABI radio country sister station WBGW and three years later became WABI-TV’s program director, a post he held for nine years.
He and Knight then got a chance to move to Portland to work for WGME-TV, where he worked on a five-year cooperative project involving WGME’s TV news division and that of the Portland Press Herald.
“In 1988, Felicia and I got a package deal to come to WGME, and became involved in their Second Dimension project until Guy Gannett sold the paper and it kind of fizzled out,” he said. Tompkins, who lives in Scarborough but plans to buy a house in Bangor, said he’s eager to get started with the 123-year-old, family-owned daily.
“The first thing I want to do is meet the staff and get a feel for what their strengths are, as well as ask their take on the business, the paper and their roles,” he said. “There are a couple areas needing change so ad sales are more equitable and reflect that it’s not just a print product anymore. The BDN is multiplatform and there are all types of products to help advertisers.”
Tompkins, who also handled promotions and public service for WGME-TV, has extensive experience with writing, producing and directing over his three decades in media. He said his experience with the multimedia Second Dimension project should prove particularly helpful.
“We had the ability to create synergy that would make advertisers happier to advertise with us than they would be at any other medium or network,” Tompkins explained. “We created something they wanted.
“It’s the same kind of challenge here. My background is in broadcasting, and I have a love of print,” said Tompkins, who has written for The New York Times and Boston Globe. “I like going through the process and coming to understand what advertisers need. It’s a challenge, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun to help both them and the BDN grow.”