’Round Town


Wed, 03/08/2023 - 7:15am

Brothers and Sisters!

WBLM radio station in Portland became 50 years old on March 1!

BLM (which I always thought meant Bureau of Land Management— still do), had humble beginnings. It was started by Jim Mitchell (no relation) as an “easy listening/elevator music” station during the day, in a trailer in Litchfield, Maine. But under the cover of darkness — Rock and Roll baby! The first song broadcast in the overnight was The Moody Blues’ “The Story in Your Eyes.” The rest is history! Skynyrd, Zepp, Stones!

I used to hear BLM blasting from lobster boats hauling along the shore, and elsewhere! And I believe if you catch the time right, you can still. But now, the timeless music is all the time; no more easy listening elevators.

How do I know this, you might ask?

During a recent visit to the One City Center headquarters of WJBQ, 97.9, to say hi to old friend Lori Voornas, (pictured above), I got caught up in the memories. Lori was leading a tour of the station for the benefit of home schooled children. It was the last of seven, 10-person tours.

Lori lead the group through closets, along hallways, around cubicles and by account executives who greeted everyone with smiles and polite rebuttals. If they were uncomfortable with the tour, it didn’t show. But Lori did not let them off the hook without a small poke which was taken in stride.

I met Lori some 30 years ago when she was part of the “Tim and Lori” show on WMGX. They were gathering frozen turkeys to help fill food banks and a small semi parked off Commercial Street. I don’t know why I happened to be there. I may have been reminded of the “WKRP” scene where Les Nessman recorded his on location reporting of turkeys falling to Earth from a helicopter on to a shopping center parking lot. The flight to the back of the semi was less traumatic and more beneficial.

Lori got her first job in radio at WBLM, answering an ad for a traffic manager. She applied for the job “on a lark” and moved to Maine. Eventually she got some “air time” on a local college station and then moved to a live on air position. I fell in love with Lori’s Greek grandmother, Yaya, who lived in Chicago. Yaya and Lori had some of the most wonderful conversations I have ever heard, live during the morning radio program. Yaya’s old world take on the state of things was priceless. I was brokenhearted to learn that none of their conversations were ever recorded and saved.

Lori runs on high octane fuel,. She is incredibly busy, doing ads, public appearances and benefits and forever producing helpful kindnesses for a multitude of causes, large and small.

By complete accident we both have the same, almost identical, breed of dog – miniature Labradoodle. Both dogs cannot function without something in their mouth. Our dog has tennis ball fixation and Lori’s dog stuffed animals. Our stuffed animals have all been disassembled and repurposed.

So there you have it. The Bureau of Land Management radio and Lori at 5:29. 5 a.m.—- just in time! Now for the news and weather.