Down East 2013 ©
Bad call: On June 29, the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros were locked in a tight game in Houston. The ‘Stros held a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning, but the Sox had the heart of their batting order coming to the plate. First place was on the line for Boston. The air was filled with tension.
In our car.
My wife and I were heading home after catching a Sea Dogs game in Portland. As we drove through the uncertain reception zone of the western Maine mountains, we tuned in to WKTJ (99.3 FM) in Farmington for the last few innings of the Sox game. All was well until the eighth inning ended. Then, instead of the usual commercial break, WKTJ went to a live remote broadcast from an open house at Franklin Memorial Hospital.
The announcer, who never identified himself, interviewed a hospital official (although he wasn’t too sure of that official’s title) about a new wing being opened. He told us the building looked like a “ski lodge.” He told us it had a waterfall. (Ski lodges have waterfalls?) He gushed on (like a waterfall) about how swell the facility was, often repeating himself. He seemed to pay no attention to the time.
Meanwhile, play in the Red Sox game had resumed. J.D. Drew was at the plate. Any pitch could result in a game-tying home run. Maybe it already had. In our car, there was no way to tell.
Ordinarily, I don’t mind the small-town sloppiness that characterizes most of WKTJ’s programming. It reminds me of my own early days in radio. I like the fact that the station is still locally programmed, covers parades and high-school sports, and doesn’t pretend to be slick. I hope it never changes, although it’s probably only a matter of time before some corporate entity buys it up and transforms it into an homogenized blend of computer-chosen elements that could be originating from Farmington, Fargo or Fang Shan.
That said, would it really wreck the spontaneous, small-town feel of the broadcast if the live ad for the hospital ended a second or two before the ballgame resumed, instead of several pitches into Drew’s at-bat? Is there some reason an announcer on a remote can’t be equipped with a clock? Is it time for me to sign up for satellite radio and kiss WKTJ goodbye? Am I just being picky because the Sox ended up losing?
Bad spelling: From the Lewiston Sun Journal’s “Sun Spots” column of June 30:
“As I recall, Maine used to belong to Massachersetts till 1820, then became the state of Maien.”
After which, all the copy editors were expelled.
Bad name: Correction of the week from the Boston Globe of June 28:
“Because of an editing error, the first and last names of artist Winslow Homer were transposed in an item on the Museum of Fine Arts exhibition on the front page of yesterday’s weekend section.”
The error was called to the paper’s attention by Simpson Homer.
Bad move: I might not have felt so ripped-off by the Bangor Daily News’ announcement on June 30 that the price of the Monday-through-Friday paper was increasing from 60 cents to 75 cents if that same day’s edition hadn’t contained two front-page stories (and several more inside) that were word-for-word repeats of articles in the Saturday paper. I understand that the BDN’s circulation was severely curtailed on Saturday, apparently because of power outages caused by a thunderstorm. (I’m guessing, because the paper didn’t bother to run an explanation or apology for its absence from newsstands in such far-flung locations as Portland and Carrabassett Valley.) But all those Saturday stories were available online, and in exchange for a 25 percent price hike, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect all fresh material.
Good move: An “E” for excellent to Scott Taylor, staff writer for the Lewiston Sun Journal for his June 29 piece on public officials’ e-mails. Taylor filed Freedom Of Access requests for all e-mails relating to public business with Lewiston’s and Auburn’s city administrators, mayors and city councilors.
Not only did that produce some interesting insights into how the municipalities operate, it displayed just how ignorant many officials are of the public’s right to know. 
One councilor initially refused to release his e-mails unless the paper got a search warrant. Several others contended they did not have to comply because they delete all their e-mails. In a few instances, the released correspondence indicated councilors were having illegal discussions and reaching informal decisions outside of public meetings, which is against the law.
Somebody should send these folks an e-mail with an attached copy of the state’s statutes dealing with open government.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com .