WVOM survives surge headache

Posted Sept. 27, 2008, at 12:50 a.m.

Hurricane Ike made its presence felt locally, but last week’s two days of unusually balmy weather weren’t the only things it gave us.

As nice as the weather was, those same high temperatures caused a big headache for Kennebunk-based Blueberry Broadcasting’s radio network.

“A week ago Monday we had that really warm, tropical day and it caused a surge that blew out the transmitter we use for WVOM,” said Bruce Biette, Blueberry’s vice president and chief executive officer. “We had to order parts for it and then we had to go 10 miles via four-wheeler to the top of Passadumkeag [Mountain]. We finally got it fixed … late Friday in time for football.”

The “football” was the University of Maine’s Saturday game on the road against conference foe Richmond.

For much of the week, the station’s signal was considerably weakened and difficult to pick up on many radios.

WVOM (103.9 FM) is the FM flagship of the Black Bear Sports Network, but it will be replaced in that role by fellow Blueberry station WAEI (97.1 FM), a Bangor-based all-sports station, starting with men’s hockey on Oct. 17 so as to better utilize WAEI’s all-sports format. Football, however, will remain on WVOM for the remainder of this season.

Although WAEI is a 50,000-watt station compared to the 100,000-watt power of WVOM, Biette doesn’t expect much — if any — drop in coverage quality or area as a result of the switch.

“In some cases, it may actually extend the coverage area for UMaine sports fans since WVOM’s signal weakens the further south you go, as well as toward coastal regions.

“Plus, it consolidates the stations’ formats by putting sports with sports and allowing WVOM to remain consistent with a news talk format.”

Orsillo, Tappen stay with NESN

Sportscasters Don Orsillo and Kathryn Tappen signed multiyear contract extensions with New England Sports Network last week.

The 38-year-old Orsillo, who handles play-by-play duties for Boston Red Sox telecasts, joined NESN in 2001 and was in the second year of a three-year deal with the regional sports network. Terms of his new deal were not released by NESN. Orsillo, who was born in Melrose, Mass., and grew up in North Conway, N.H., called his 1,000th Red Sox TV telecast last week. He has won two New England Emmy awards.

Tappen, who was hired by the regional satellite and cable sports network in August 2006, will continue to serve as Boston Bruins broadcast studio host and NESN SportsDesk anchor. A NESN release said the Rutgers University graduate will take on a larger role at the network but didn’t specify what that larger role would entail. She has also served as rinkside reporter at Hockey East and Beanpot game broadcasts.

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