Radio broadcasting began in Maine in 1925. Since then, there has never been a dull moment for the people of Portland and southern Maine. Here are five things, however, your probably don't know about Portland Maine Radio:
1. Comedian Billy Crystal worked at WBLM. Well his character Mitch Robbins did in the movie City Slickers. Actually, in the movie WBLM was in New York City and not on the Portland Maine radio dial. The call letters WBLM began its life playing what we used to call Beautiful Music (some called it elevator music). The station's call letters were a tribute to its hometown: Beautiful Lewiston, Maine. The call letters appeared in City Slickers, though, as a tribute to the film's writer BabaLoo Mandell. It is also interesting to note that radio legend Howard Stern once applied for a position on the real WBLM but was turned-down...shocking!
2. More and More People In Portland Maine Are Listening To Their Favorite Radio Stations Online. Almost 1/2 of all adults say they listened to radio online in the past month. That number has increased 320% since 2005. Portland Radio Group, the largest broadcasting group serving southern Maine, reports that listeners spend more than 333,000 hours each month listening to their stations online. Listen for yourself: Coast 93.1; WPOR; Rewind 100.9; WCLZ; and WGAN. Here is a link to great article about online radio: 7 Things Maine Small Business Needs To Know About Online Radio
3. WCSH was the first Portland Maine Radio Station. Most people know WCSH as Channel 6, an NBC television affiliate owned by newspaper giant Gannett publisher of USA Today. The station, however, began in radio on July 25, 1925 broadcasting at 970am from the Congress Street Hotel on July 25, 1925 (the station was owned by the Rines family who also owned the hotel). The station is now WZAN which is owned and operated by Portland Radio Group
4. Former Tonight Show Host Jack Paar Owned WHOM Radio. Before Jimmy. Before Jay. Before Johnny, there was Jack. Jack Paar hosted NBC's Tonight Show from 1957-1962. He is most famous for actually walking off the show mid-broadcast when the network censored one of his jokes that used the term "W.C." which is British slang for bathroom. Upon retiring from the show, Paar purchased what was then known as WMTW radio (the call letters stood for MounT Washington Broadcasting in reference to where the broadcast towers were located). The station changed owners several times after Paar and officially changed its name to WHOM in 1976.
5 .WGAN was once owned by The Portland Press Herald. In 1938, Guy Gannett who owned the Portland Press Herald and several other Maine newspapers built, owned, and operated Portland Maine radio station WGAN. The station, now operating on 560am and 105.5fm started life on 640am Here is how The Press Herald reported on the birth of WGAN: “The Federal Communications Commission granted the application of the Portland Broadcasting System, Inc. for a radio station in May, 1936. Months of delay followed, owing to legal entanglements. The firm was granted use of the 640 kilocycle frequency….It is on record that permission to use the popular frequency was given WGAN because: The applicant was legally, technically, financially and otherwise qualified to construct and maintain a station of the kind and class applied for; there was a need for the service as shown by population figures and importance of the area as a trading center; equipment proposed by the applicant complied with requirements of the FCC, and records disclosed sufficient local talent available for successful operation.
Station WGAN began regular broadcasting Aug. 3 and made its first pick-up (remote broadcast) at Old Orchard Beach a few days later, covering the first annual marathon. It is being acclaimed by all Maine, by telegram, telephone, and mail, as functioning perfectly, from the listeners’ viewpoint, and as a definite progressive influence in the state.” The Press Herald owned the station until 1983. It is now owned by Portland Radio Group.