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Longtime veteran broadcaster happy with his own station

After more than 40 years in broadcasting, Frank Pingree was ready to give up his job, but not his calling.

As Pingree neared retirement, the Walt Disney Co. announced attractive buyouts to employees of its ESPN sports programming network. Pingree had been with ESPN since it started operations in 1979, providing voice announcements for its programs and promotional announcements.

But since he had already planned to retire within six months, he took the offer.

"I felt like I won the lotto," Pingree said. "I couldn't get out of the business, no way,"

A Concord native, he started his career in the mid-1950s, resisting Elvis Presley and playing Frank Sinatra records over hometown WKXL. Pingree planned to retire to the North Country, and he took Disney's check and his love of broadcasting back home with him.

In radio's heyday, when being a jack-of-all trades was vital to secure and keep employment, Pingree served as both an announcer and a technician who plied his on-air and engineering skills at stations from New England to Washington state. As retirement approached, he also took advantage of the FCC's first application period for low-power FM licenses.

Pingree's WJSK-LP in Bartlett plays standard jazz music, automating much of the day's programming from a home computer.

But he also lends to the daily mix a voice cultivated by decades announcing for some of the country's legendary broadcasters. Once heard by millions, he is now satisfied speaking with his neighbors and the occasional tourist about local fund drives and bean suppers.

"I'd be a sad man if I couldn't do it after being on the air," he said. "I may be at it as long as God keeps me alive."

- Bill Smith


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