July 2, 2012

Don Brown, radio bosses, part ‘amicably’

Legendary local broadcaster says WABK going “in a different direction”

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

GARDINER — For the past two weeks, morning radio personality Don Brown has slept later than usual.
He gets up 6 a.m. now when his wife’s cellphone alarm rings.

click image to enlarge

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan Radio personality Don Brown.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“That’s three extra hours of sleep for me,” Brown said.

But listeners no long hear his deep gruff voice waking them up on WABK’s morning show.
Brown said he and Blueberry Broadcasting LLC “parted company amicably,”

“We agreed that they were going to go in a different direction that didn’t include me,” he said.
Brown, 72, whose real name is Don Wormwood, had been on the air for 44 years, getting up at 3 a.m. to prepare for work.

Bruce Biette, general manager at Blueberry Broadcasting’s station, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Brown said he had planned to retire in November anyway.

“I’ve been in radio and television since 1957,” Brown said. “I’ve been around 44 years in the Augusta area. Maybe it’s time.”

His first job was on a talk show on WIDE in Biddeford while he was still in high school. The television days were between 1957 and 1965, working on “The Dave Astor Show (For Teenagers Only).”

“I was the comedian on the show until I graduated from high school,” he said. Then he was a frequent guest.
“Things have changed, and it’s time to move on,” he said. “They aren’t what they used to be. Right now, I’m mulling over what I want to do. I’m not going to work in broadcasting per se.”

Many people in central Maine grew up to the voice of Don Brown in the morning on WABK-FM104.3.

“Don was truly a radio original, sort of a throwback to days when radio was really important to peoples’ lives,” said Steve Smith, Brown’s operations manager from 1994 to 2009, and now sales director for Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick.

“When you woke up in the morning and heard Don Brown on, you knew everything was OK,” Smith said. “You graduated high school with Don Brown, got married with Don Brown, had your kids with Don Brown, and then your grandkids with Don Brown. There will never be that kind of career again — one person in one community.”
Brown said he’ll continue to follow his grandchildren’s activities, and hopes to start doing event emceeing and standup comedy — “whichever pays more.”

He said he also wants to relax and travel.

Brown and his wife, Priscilla, have seven children and 19 grandchildren between them, and “they’re a great joy.”
He was honored last year with the Citizen of the Year award from Le Club Calumet, the Augusta-based Franco- American club.

“It’s something I was very proud of,” he said. “I didn’t expect it, but I was very proud.”

In 2006, he was inducted into the Maine Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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