Passion, organization help Rich Kimball tackle sportscasting, teaching, acting

In the studio at Blueberry Communications in Bangor, Rich Kimball, host of Downtown with Rich Kimball, delivers his afternoon radio sports broadcast with producer reporter Brian Stackpole Wednesday afternoon, July 25, 2012.
John Clarke Russ | BDN
In the studio at Blueberry Communications in Bangor, Rich Kimball, host of Downtown with Rich Kimball, delivers his afternoon radio sports broadcast with producer reporter Brian Stackpole Wednesday afternoon, July 25, 2012. Buy Photo
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted July 27, 2012, at 5:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Rich Kimball’s life is sane these days.

But from September until the middle of June, he may be the busiest man in eastern Maine.

Kimball teaches civics at Brewer High School and runs the school’s drama department. He directs the school plays. In addition, he is the host of the Downtown with Rich Kimball radio show from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and he performs with the Focus Group, a comedy improvisational ensemble. He is an accomplished local actor who has done plays at a number of venues including Penobscot Theatre and the Acadia Repertory Theatre in Somesville.

And, during fall weekends, the four-time Maine Sportscaster of the Year can be heard as the play-by-play voice of the University of Maine’s football team.

“I think I’d be bored if I was only doing one thing. I get something a little different from all of them,” said the 54-year-old Kimball, who works a number of 14- to 15-hour days when he goes from teaching class to his radio show and back to Brewer High for play practice.

So how does he juggle his various jobs?

“I wasn’t very well organized as a kid and probably wasn’t until I started teaching,” said Kimball, a University of Maine graduate who will begin his 23rd year as an educator in the fall. “There’s something about teaching. You have to plan for every single minute of the day. You’ve got to have some idea of what you’re doing each day. So I had to become organized and that carried over into everything else I do.

“I sort of have a mental idea of what has to be done each day. I’m a compulsive list-maker. I’ve always got a list going for what has to be done for school or the radio show. And my wife seems to think I do OK with it,” said Kimball.

That is an understatement according to his wife, Abby.

“He’s probably the best time-management person I’ve ever met,” said Abby Kimball. “Having been a stage manager, I’m a good multitasker but he takes it to a new level.”

Kimball admits that exhaustion sets in at the end of the school year.

“I’ll say I can’t do this another year,” said Kimball. “But after a week or two of just doing the radio show, sleeping in and being able to have a cup of coffee and read the paper, my batteries get recharged.”

Kimball has passion for all of his endeavors and that’s unlikely to change.

“It doesn’t surprise me but it does amaze me,” said Brewer Community School principal Bill Leithiser, who used to teach with Kimball. “He is a very unique talent. And he has a phenomenal memory.”

Kimball said his professions have similarities.

“Good teachers have to perform to a certain extent,” said Kimball, who said he still looks forward to the first day of school. “You’ve got to make class interesting. Having a commanding voice doesn’t hurt, especially with middle school kids or [high school] freshmen. And you gain confidence from being on stage and being on radio.

“There’s definitely a relationship between radio, TV, acting and teaching,” he added.

Kimball’s odyssey began at Bangor High School with speech and theater teachers Barbara Browne and Jim Pike.

“I won a lot of money winning speech contests for Barbara Browne and I did plays for Jim Pike,” said Kimball.

A friend of his, Tom Shepard, was working part time at WABI radio and told him they had an opening in radio. Shepard suggested he come in and audition.

So Kimball auditioned for Jim MacFarlane, who was running country station WBGW-FM.

“I was terrible. I did an ad for Bradstreet Fuel and Equipment and the item was supposed to be a wheelhorse tractor and I called it a wholesale tractor,” said Kimball who also mispronounced the word “quahog.”

“Jim MacFarlane said, ‘How badly do you need this job?’ I said, ‘I’m a senior in high school living at home.’ He said, ‘Great, you’re hired,’” recalled Kimball, who wound up doing both radio and TV, including anchoring the TV news on Sunday nights as a high school senior.

He eventually was contacted by news director Don Carrigan and sports director Dale Duff at WLBZ-TV Channel 2 in Bangor and went to work for them as a sportscaster while Kimball still was working toward a degree in education.

Duff and Kimball left WLBZ to sign on with WZON-AM, the first sports talk radio station in Bangor.

When he was at WABI-WBGW, a University of Maine student used to call him regularly looking for a job.

His name was Gary Tanguay.

“I drove him nuts. He had to give me a job,” said Tanguay, who is now co-host of “Sports Tonight” on Comcast SportsNet-New England (TV), handles pregame and postgame hosting chores for Boston Celtics games and does the same thing before and after New England Patriots games on 98.1 FM.

“He taught me what radio was all about. He is a wealth of knowledge,” said Tanguay, who can be heard occasionally on Downtown with Rich Kimball.

“His show is great. He’s a real pro. He’s one of the most talented guys in New England,” Tanguay added.

Leithiser said Kimball is equally proficient as a teacher.

James Bartol, a 2009 Brewer High School graduate who is closing in on a degree in film production at prestigious New York University, said Kimball has played an important role in his life.

“I have learned so much from him. And he has been very supportive of everything I’ve done,” said Bartol. “He’s a very committed individual. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without his help and personal attention. And he has done that for so many people.”

Leithiser said Kimball is also a compassionate person.

“Two months after my son Alex was born, he became very sick. He was in and out of the hospital from September to April vacation,” said Leithiser. “Rich and I were teaching together and he came over to me and told me, ‘You worry about Alex and let us worry about school.’ Rich did his job and mine so I could be with my son in the hospital and he never asked for anything in return. I’ll never forget that.”

Kimball said he has been “very happy” with the evolution of the radio show, which focuses on the Boston pro sports scene and the University of Maine teams but also branches out into arts, entertainment and lifestyles.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/27/sports/passion-organization-help-rich-kimball-tackle-sportscasting-teaching-acting/ printed on July 31, 2014