Hallelujah, the TV Show Wildfire is back on the air!

DSCN3529Wildfire explored the most interesting, provocative, and pressing natural resource and outdoor issues and stirred things up, just one of the many reasons I’ve missed this TV talk show since it went off the air three years ago. When Harry Vanderweide and his business partner Andy Collar asked me to cohost the show in 2002, it didn’t take long to say yes.

State Representative Paul Jacques was my cohost for year one, and Harry took on that role the next year. We started out on commercial television but that got to be very expensive, so we switched to Time Warner cable, putting us in more than 300,000 Maine homes and helping build a statewide audience.

There is very little news coverage of the outdoor issues many of us care about – actually, that most of us care about. A recent survey performed by Responsive Management for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, found that 70 percent of us enjoy seeing and having wildlife around our homes and property, but many worry about the problems these wild critters cause, from destruction of gardens to Lyme disease.

Looking back at our lists of guests brought many fond memories. We really did stir things up! We talked about all the hot issues, from bear hunting to wind power, but I most enjoyed the shows with Maine authors, outdoor writers, birding-hunting-fishing guides, and especially, Kate Krukowski Gooding, who writes wild game cookbooks.

And here’s the really good news about the revival of Wildfire – the Rockport studio where we’ll be taping the show has a kitchen, so Kate can cook for us! I’m counting on a dish featuring python, her latest interest, and her awesomely delicious bear stew.

I’m sorry to report that Harry is unable to cohost the show, due to his continuing battle with Lyme disease. But he’s very supportive, happy the show will be back on the air, and he knows there will always be a place for him on the show, if and when he is physically able to do it. James Cote will be my new cohost. James is a consultant and lobbyist who represents many sportsman and natural resource interests in Augusta, and who successfully managed the 2014 bear referendum.

Reade Brower, the owner of Maine Today Media that includes the Portland Press Herald and Sunday Telegram, will be our partner in bringing Wildfire back to the air. Reade is a real entrepreneur with his own TV production studio and online TV station (www.vstv.me).

Reade is an interesting character. He arrived in Maine at age 25 and tried to get a job shoveling snow at the Camden Snow Bowl. He failed because, as he told reporter Whit Richardson, “I didn’t have the experience.”  He became an entrepreneur, he told Richardson, “only because I was never hirable. I never had a real job because I just don’t fit the mold.” Hmmm. I know the feeling!

Moody’s Collision Center is the primary sponsor of the show. Each edition of Wildlife will be aired six times on Time Warner cable station 9, Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. Each edition will air for two weeks, so you have no excuse for missing it! The first show aired on April 12, and you can watch it tonight. You can also access the show online at www.vstv.me.

Deirdre Fleming, the outdoor writer for the Press Herald and Sunday Telegram, is the guest on our first show, which explores why we get so little coverage of outdoor issues these days. Yes, we’ll be putting Deirdre on the spot! Our second show will feature Don Kleiner, executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, to discuss the demise of our outdoor industry and the steps we’ll need to take to rebuild it.

Show number three features Roberta Scruggs, Communications Director of the Maine Forest Products Council. Roberta was for many years an award-winning outdoor reporter for the Press Herald and Telegram, and we talked to her about that, about issues of concern to landowners who provide a lot of the places where we enjoy out outdoor activities, and of course, about the status of our forest products industry.

Each edition of Wildfire will also present a survey question that viewers will be invited to answer. Yes, we want to engage you in this process.

So here’s your question for today. What issues would you like us to explore on Wildfire, and what guests would you like to see on the show? George and James want to know! You can email your suggestions to me at georgesmithmaine@gmail.com, or mail them to me at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, 04352.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.