Bryan Sidelinger worked in the service industry for over 20 years, including a 15-year stint as a bartender. Three years ago, he decided that he had enough and began attending the New England School of Communications at Husson University in Bangor for the spring semester of 2016.
That led to a position as an associate producer for the weekend newscasts at WABI-TV Channel 5 in Bangor last winter and now he has been promoted to a news/sports reporter at the station.
Sports anchor Eric Gullickson has been elevated to sports director replacing the retired Tim Throckmorton and Sidelinger will be Gullickson’s right-hand man when needed. Sidelinger will eventually become the weekend sports anchor.
“I’m pretty excited,” said the 42-year-old Sidelinger, a native of Waldoboro. “I have always loved sports and I didn’t want to be in the service industry until I was 50, 60 or 70. I would listen to sports talk radio or see sports reports on the news and I thought I could probably do that.”
He figured he could make close to the same money and get more enjoyment out of it.
“I love talking to people and love telling their stories. And everyone is happy to see you. When you love your job, it doesn’t seem like work,” noted Sidelinger, who found that wasn’t always the case in the service industry.
Sidelinger, who will get his degree from NESCOM next year, has already picked up some valuable on-air time by serving as the sideline reporter for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s high school basketball tournament coverage.
“I had the opportunity to interview (Sen.) Susan Collins after the Caribou boys won the state (Class B) title this season and it was the biggest thrill,” he said. “That cemented (his desire to become a sports reporter/anchor) for me.”
He also did some stories while serving as an assistant producer at WABI and began his news reporting chores last week.
Sidelinger played basketball and ran cross country at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro and managed the softball team his senior year.
”They won the state (Class A) title that year. It was the last time they won it,” Sidelinger said.
He said he was a reserve on the basketball team and converted one free throw in the tournament at the old Bangor Auditorium.
“I’m clinging to that,” he quipped.
After graduating from high school, he got into the service industry first as a dishwasher before moving up to bar manager and bartender. He spent 10 years as a bartender at the Key Largo Anglers Club in Florida and was also an assistant tennis pro before returning to Maine to become a bartender in Bar Harbor in 2012.
He still lives in Bar Harbor, a short distance away from the Kebo Valley Club, where he is a member.
Although noting that Sidelinger has limited experience, Gullickson thinks he will be a good fit as a sports reporter/anchor.
“He will pick it up fast,” Gullickson said.
Sidelinger said he has met a lot of good people at NESCOM such as Jeff Hope and Steve Vachon, who have helped him make his career change.