BRUNSWICK — Anyone who has lived in Brunswick for a while will probably recall radio station WCME. Now, a new owner of the call letters and frequency aims to resurrect the station.
Jim Bleikamp purchased the frequency at 900 AM in April 2009 from his friend Bob Bittner, who owns WJTO in Bath. Bleikamp said he will request a zone change from the Planning Board in December to allow a telecommunications tower. He declined to identify the property, but said it is in southern Brunswick, off Route 1.
If approved for a tower in the Oak Hill area, where there are already five towers in place, Bleikamp said WCME will provide local news and sports and a talk radio format. He said he hopes to receive input from the community about what it would like to hear as the station progresses.
He said WCME will be “full service,” featuring local news, Brunswick High School football and basketball games, other local high school sports and community announcements.
Bleikamp has been in radio for most of his working life, he said, and has spent the past 1o years as a news anchor for Wall Street Journal Radio in New York.
“But to me, the magic of radio and it’s real value is very much at the local level,” Bleikamp said.
Part of the attraction in Brunswick is it’s political nature and community involvement.
“I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to live in Maine and do radio,” he said. “This opportunity I more or less stumbled on by accident. It was really a wonderful quirk of fate.”
Bleikamp said he was searching through Federal Communications Commission records and found the 900 frequency was available. Following the purchase, Bittner called to let him know the call letters WCME were available, too. Bleikamp seized the opportunity with the intention of restoring the old station.
WCME existed in Brunswick between 1955 and 1972, Bleikamp said. Because written records of radio stations are rare, most of what Bleikamp has learned has been from former employees, he said.
The station used to be on River Road in Brunswick, where there was a studio and office. Bleikamp said several disc jockeys began their careers at WCME, including nationally known Top 40 host and Brunswick native J.J. Jeffrey, who now owns WLOB in Portland after selling WBLM and WOKQ a few years ago to Citadel Broadcasting.
“He’s probably the biggest name to emerge from that station,” Bleikamp said.
Another Brunswick native and longtime radio host, Russ Caron, is returning home to host the morning show at WCME.
“We expect very quickly for the whole town to know who Russ is,” Bleikamp said.
Caron said after a 20-year career in New Jersey, he and his wife decided it was time to return to his hometown. He was contacted by Bleikamp, who heard rumors Caron was retiring to Maine.
Caron said he never worked at WCME, but as a child he was “addicted” to radio and listened to WCME from sunrise to sunset. He said at the age of 9, he requested newswire sheets from the station, which he would take home and read as part of his own personal radio show performed for his parents. He said WCME was instrumental in forming his radio career.
Bleikamp said WCME will broadcast 24 hours a day.
“I truly believe the more we focus on the community and serve the community, the better we will do and the more we will win,” he said. “We will air all points of view on all issues. We have no political agenda.”
Bleikamp said the station plans to announce community items, including lost dogs.
“There are a lot of smaller stations that would view (lost dog announcements) as too small. We don’t,” he said. “There is virtually nothing too small to pay attention to.”
Bleikamp said his goal is to have every resident of Brunswick on the radio at least once.
A website at radio9wcme.com will become the station’s “very active web presence,” Bleikamp said. People are encouraged to e-mail suggestions for the station through the website, he said.
Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.