Hallelujah, the TV show “Wildfire” is back on the air!

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

Then-Rep. Paul Jacques was my co-host for the first year, 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 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.

So it’s really good news that “Wildfire” is returning. And, even better, the Rockport studio where we’re 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, because of his continuing battle with Lyme disease. But he’s supportive and 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 co-host. James is a consultant and lobbyist who represents many sportsmen and natural resource interests in Augusta, and who successfully managed the 2014 bear referendum.

Reade Brower, the owner of Maine Today Media, which includes this newspaper, 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.

Each edition of “Wildfire” will air on Time Warner Cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Each edition will air for two weeks, so you have no excuse for missing it. The first show aired last night. You can also access the show online at www.vstv.me.

Deirdre Fleming, the outdoor writer for the Portland Press Herald and Maine 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 features Don Kleiner, executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, to discuss the decline of our outdoor industry and the steps we’ll need to take to rebuild it.

Show No. 3 features Roberta Scruggs, communications director of the Maine Forest Products Council. Roberta was for many years an award-winning outdoor reporter for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday 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 the addresses below. Thanks.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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