Posted by

Mike Fern, Allen Adams & Mike Dow Mike Fern, Allen Adams & Mike Dow
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Share

Celebrating 15 years: Looking back at a decade and a half of The Maine Edge

December 29, 2021
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

BANGOR – We love origin stories.

Maybe it’s because of decades of conditioning through superhero movies where we get to see how our favorite characters begin. Or perhaps it’s because of the sequels that spring up in hopes of carrying those characters forward in time – that’s probably the reason why we’re up to nine films in the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Or maybe it’s as simple as an idea popping into your head at the right time in the right place.

I’ve often told the story of how The Maine Edge began. Whether it’s to a business group, a client or anyone else who is interested in an origin story, we sometimes don’t know the background of how some businesses began or what the inspiration was behind it. For me, it was while I was standing on a sidewalk outside the Fox News building in Times Square in the fall of 2006.

It was a rather warm September day in New York City – much like you’d expect from hours of sunshine beating down on the concrete jungle – and I was waiting for a private limo to catch a flight out of JFK.

Speaking about ideas, private limos have been around long before Uber was even a thing. Yet someone still came up with idea of having ordinary people serve as personal limo drivers. It’s funny how that happens. But I digress.

Lightbulbs everywhere

It was there when a revelation suddenly appeared like a mirage in a desert. It was like a lightbulb had gone off amid the thousands that were flashing all around me in the billboard capital of the world – well, maybe the U.S. It was a sudden, intuitive insight of a reality that was unfolding before me. It was an epiphany.

As I stood and saw everyday New Yorkers pull newspapers out of the long row of newspaper boxes adorning the front of the building that I was in front of, I noticed something peculiar. No one was plugging quarters into any of the paid papers that New York is well known for. Instead, they were opening the doors and grabbing only those that were free.

Maybe that is the future of newspapers, I thought. Hmm … maybe I’m on to something here.

I’ve worked in the media field for over 30 years, including some metro markets that were quite competitive and included free-distribution newspapers. Working for daily newspapers most of my life, I never gave such publications a second thought.

But something clicked. While the flight back to Bangor seemed quick, it was long enough to churn the idea that is The Edge today – a community-based publication supported by advertisers and focused on a dose of news, arts, entertainment and pop culture with a little bit of attitude thrown in. The toughest part of realizing any dream, however, is grasping the enormity of the energy needed to get it started.

Think physics here.

Many of us learned in science that to produce kinetic energy, often called the energy of motion, we usually must do something to initiate it. A pitcher throws a ball to a catcher. A marble will roll downhill naturally if let go. A rocket launches into the sky. In all cases, force is applied by an external source and all will stay in motion until an opposing force or forces – usually friction – will slow it down or stop it altogether, a la an immovable object.

Believe it or not, starting a business is no different.

To make The Edge a reality, we’d have to form a corporation, build a staff and the structure for that staff, and create the systems that make media companies work the way they do. In fact, media companies have a lot of disciplines under the hood, from writers to salespeople and designers to delivery staff. Getting them to all work in harmony is what produces the dynamic energy that you see in many media companies today.

So we built it and hoped people would come. As with any new idea, you hope it takes off and people respond to it. That meant not just readers, but advertisers who would have to be a part of the model in order to sustain this type of publication. We were hoping the community would embrace what The Edge could be – a local publication built to serve the community around it.

Starting with a modest press run of 10,000 copies delivered to about 150 locations, we began production with our first edition in December 2006. That first night was long, as we were testing all of our systems live and distributing across the area for the first time. It’s one of those nights you’ll always remember. An adrenaline rush you don’t forget.

Fast forward 15 years and we now produce over 18,000 copies a week. Our distribution area also expanded from those early days from just a 10-mile radius to more than 1,300 locations in the Penobscot, Hancock and Waldo tri-county area.

The bumpy road

It wasn’t always easy, however. Our earliest advertisers, some of whom have returned in this anniversary edition, were the bedrock of our foundation from the very beginning and we have survived all of these years through their continued support. Naturally, some of those earliest clients are no longer here – businesses come and go as they often do over an extended period of time. Yet other factors along the way haven’t helped much either.

The housing crisis in 2008 was a major blow to a lot of businesses, particularly in the housing and mortgage sectors. We saw the economic impact of that with many of our clients in other sectors as well. And just over a decade later, we’d see COVID-19 do the same but this time to a much wider array of sectors affecting a much larger swath of businesses.

On top of that, the primary focuses of our publication – the arts and entertainment industries – were affected much more disproportionately by last year’s shutdowns. Our ability to produce content was severely impacted along with our business operations. With the current COVID-19 variants running amok, some are still under stress.

But with all that said, it’s been a heck of a ride these past 15 years. A look at our covers over the years shows that nothing has been off limits. We’ve covered everything from plays and productions to hot-topic issues and everything (or everyone) else in between. But that is what should be expected of a community-based publication that serves the local community.

Years ago, a wise media professional and one of my mentors once said, “A local newspaper is about the people and places you know.” To this day, he’s still spot on.

-

The Edge at 15: Mike Dow

I was a fan of The Maine Edge long before I submitted my first story. When this fine publication fired up operations 15 years ago, the greater Bangor area finally had its own arts and entertainment weekly, a locally sourced platform for stories related to film, music, theatre, literature and television. No politics, no spin, no condescension, just the good stuff, dusted with humor and personality, delivered free, then and now.

I came to The Maine Edge from radio which has somehow sustained me long enough to see songs become oldies that I’d originally played when new. George Hale warned me that would happen someday. It hasn’t stopped being just about the most fun job a person could have.

Maine Edge publisher Mike Fern invited me to submit a story in late 2009 summing up that year in music. What a fun idea, I thought at the time without realizing how much work was involved. I remember tinkering endlessly with that story before sending it to Mike. How do they do this every week I wondered? You adopt a new appreciation for the art of writing print stories when you’re tasked with creating one yourself.

I accepted Mike’s challenge of becoming a regular Edge contributor before officially joining the writing staff in 2016.

Most of my stories are related to music simply because it’s what I know best. My taste is very broad but I think that works to my favor when it comes to reviewing music. My roots are in classic pop and rock, but I also love blues, jazz, classical, folk, old school country and world music.

Writing for The Maine Edge, combined with the daily radio show on BIG 104 FM, has opened some doors to allow me to connect with hundreds of people who create music, including some whom I consider personal heroes. When I think about some of those interviews, I get a warm glow.

Brian Wilson told me about the excitement he felt the first time he heard a Beach Boys song on the radio. Gregg Allman told me there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t think about the last conversation he’d shared with his late brother Duane. Beatles recording engineer Ken Scott told me about a warning he’d received from producer George Martin during sessions for “The White Album” that altered their relationship for the better. Wilco’s Glenn Kotche told me about a lesson the band taught their label during the recording of “Summerteeth.”

Those random moments were taken out of context, but they were from some of my favorite interviews made possible because of The Maine Edge. I do not take that privilege for granted and I only share that here to illustrate how grateful I am for the opportunity.

I like to ask questions and I love to turn those interviews into stories for you. Sometimes I don’t need to go far to find a good subject.

Writing for the Edge has given me an opportunity to pursue stories about some of Maine’s most talented music makers from north to south. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find a few names that should be on your radar for next year.

As we turn 15, I’m thankful for all of the people who continue to make it possible, from the editorial and sales staff to the delivery folks who work all night to get the new issue into your hands each Wednesday. I’m grateful for our advertisers who support us (without whom…) and I’m grateful for you, our readers.

Thanks to The Maine Edge, and you, for 15 unforgettable years.

-

 

My time on the (Maine) Edge: Allen Adams

Fifteen years is a long time. A lot of things can happen in that span.

For instance, it’s long enough for an upstart weekly to become a key component of the cultural fabric of a community (not necessarily a HUGE component, mind you, but we’ve got our fans out there). And along the way, the City of Bangor has grown and changed in ways I never could have anticipated.

So we’re celebrating 15 years of The Maine Edge this week. Our little paper that could is now old enough to be a sophomore in high school. It can get a learner’s permit, for Pete’s sake. Honestly, it seems crazy to think about. It’s difficult to know what to say, really.

What do you say about a job that is more than a job?

My work here at The Maine Edge stopped being “just a job” years ago – if it ever was. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life both professionally and personally, offering opportunities and opening doors that I never might have seen otherwise.

I’ve been part of this team for just about all of those 15 years – I actually published my first piece (a review of a PTC production of “The Santaland Diaries,” if you’re curious) in these pages in mid-December of 2007, almost exactly one year after the paper’s inception.

I know, I know – it seems like I’ve been here from the get-go. Sometimes I forget that I wasn’t.

But I wasn’t here for the infancy of The Edge, those first few months when the crew here was first learning how to walk, discovering the best ways to do what they do on the fly. Starting something new takes guts. And while there might have been the occasional mistake or misstep along the way, that’s one thing that this team never lacked – guts.

They took a chance on me, after all.

Origin story time: In December of 2007, I walked into The Edge’s old basement offices on Main Street with a couple of samples and a desire to get back to writing for a living. Only this time, I was looking to write what I wanted to write. And from the look of The Maine Edge, this was a chance to do just that.

After an interview and that “Santaland” review – an audition of sorts – I was invited to join the team as a part-time writer. My first few pieces were … let’s call them “passable,” though I would eventually find my voice, such as it is.

At the same time, another gentleman (whose name escapes me after these many years) was also hired as a part-time writer. Well, it turns out that the other guy wasn’t great at following through on assignments or, you know, showing up.

And so, just a few weeks after I began, The Edge’s decision-makers asked themselves a simple question – why hire another part-time writer if we could just make Allen full-time? And just like that, the trajectory of my professional life was forever changed.

(So yeah – thanks, fellow writer whose name I really wish I remembered. You definitely did me a solid.)

I’ve spent the months and years since doing my level best to be the finest writer that I can be. I’ve written hundreds of movie reviews and book reviews – hell, maybe thousands at this point. I’ve enjoyed bringing attention to the region’s many talented performing arts organizations, seeing scores of shows professional, community and academic. I’ve tried to write accurate previews and predictions of sporting events (while also embracing my general inability to do so). I’ve had the opportunity to interview interesting and talented people from across the cultural spectrum – including more than a few of my personal heroes.

Over the past five, almost six years, I’ve worn an additional hat here at TME – that of editor. It has been a challenge – a welcome challenge, to be sure, but definitely a challenge. There’s a good deal of responsibility that comes with the position, but perhaps none of my work is more important than doing my utmost to ensure that we are able to give you, the reader, the very best arts and entertainment nonsense that we can provide on a regular basis.

You’ll see scattered through this edition some looks back at highlights from my time here, snapshots of stories that have stayed with me over the years. It’s worth noting, however, that all of these stories matter to me. I am lucky to be able to do what I do – I can only hope that my deep and abiding gratitude comes through in the words on the page. Because I am lucky. All of us here are.

A lot has changed in 15 years. We’ve dealt with plenty of ups and downs, just like all of you. And the last couple of years in particular have presented their own struggles and challenges; even so, we’ve put our heads down and soldiered on – just like all of you.

But one thing has remained the same – the loyalty of our readers. We’re grateful for everything you do for us and grateful for the opportunities you grant us to do what we do. And so, to all of you out there, whether you’ve been with us since the very beginning or you’re just now turning our pages for the first time, I say thank you. Thank you for traveling with us on this journey. Thank you for embracing us the way that you have.

Thank you for an incredible 15 years.

-

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 07:48
back to top