When I was 10 in 1947, I remember listening to Bangor high school boys basketball regular season and tournaments games on the radio.
The first televised high school basketball game in Maine was in February 1955 when WABI of Bangor did Bangor High School’s last regular season game at the old yellow-painted Bangor Auditorium, the site of the current Cross Insurance Center.
WABI was preparing to televise the first tournament games in Maine at that site for the Eastern Maine boys Class M and S tourney games and then would do Class L at the University of Maine’s Memorial Gym. WABI wanted a practice run so it televised the Stearns at Bangor game at the old Auditorium, where Bangor played its home games.
In the mid-1950s, Bangor radio stations WLBZ and WABI broadcast all of Bangor’s home and away games. They did our 1955 tourney and state games and went to Boston for our three New England games.
In 1994, I started doing games for WABI with color on the Class B, C and D boys games for radio and for the Class A games on TV.
The radio-TV experience during my playing and coaching days and during my time at WABI is much different than what I’m watching and listening for today’s tourney broadcasts.
It’s a little frustrating listening to the broadcasts because they don’t give the scores enough.
WABI’s play-by-play people gave the score every minute on the minute. They used a one-minute sandglass timer to remind themselves to do it.
Not knowing what’s going on during games for strategy can also be frustrating. WABI radio broadcasters always tried to let listeners know which direction the teams were going at the old Auditorium from their broadcast vantage so listeners could picture that in their minds.
They let them know what types of offenses and defenses teams were playing.They tried to keep up to date on team and individual statistics for shooting percentages, turnovers, and player fouls. That’s not done very much today until the game wrap-ups occur.
Another problem with today’s tourney broadcasts is lack of familiarity with the play-by-play and color folks, especially the online streaming games done by the National Federation of High School Sports Associations Network and the Northeast Sports Network. There used to be several TV basketball broadcasters for WABI and then Maine Public TV who did the tourney games every year.
Those broadcasters had a great rapport with each other but many of today’s play-by-play people also don’t ask their color analysts for their opinions enough. Some have a tendency to get off topic like second-guessing the officials’ calls.
For many years in the Bangor Auditorium, WABI radio did do most of the tourney games and WABI TV would do the Class A tourney while Maine Public did the Class B, C, D games before also picking up Class A. The radio broadcasters would be high above court-side, on the right-hand corner of Auditorium’s lobby side and behind the team benches while the TV broadcasters would be on press row.
It was more convenient watching the games on TV rather than today’s online video streaming as now only the state games are televised.
Officiating was my most enjoyable basketball activity but doing color for tourney games on TV and radio ranks second, ahead of playing and coaching. I look forward to watching the state finals this week.