December 30, 2013

Late-night talk show a Maine-made hit

Dan Cashman hosts the locally produced program that airs in all three of the state’s markets – a rarity.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Dan Cashman hosts “The Nite Show With Danny Cashman,” during a taping Dec. 11 in front of a live audience at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer.

Photos by Michael C. York/Special to the Press Herald

NOTHING LIKE LIVE TV

“The Nite Show with Danny Cashman” is filmed monthly before an audience at Next Generation Theatre, 39 Center St., Brewer. Three shows are prerecorded at a time, during a period of about three hours. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested. Plus food and refreshments are sold. It’s a chance to see how a TV show is recorded, in this case, by 20 or so students from the New England School of Communications in Bangor.

The next taping is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Jan. 29. For tickets to the show, and information on upcoming episodes, go to theniteshowmaine.com

WHERE, WHEN TO WATCH

WPXT (Ch. 51) in Portland, 10 p.m. Saturdays

WABI (Ch. 5) in Bangor, 11:30 p.m. Saturdays

WAGM (Ch. 8) in Presque Isle, midnight Saturdays

A special version of the show will air at 11:35 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, live from downtown Bangor on WABI and streamed live on WABI.com.

Brown comes so often that Cashman has even used him as a performer. When Gov. Paul LePage was a guest earlier this year, Cashman had Brown act as a heckler from the audience. The joke was that Brown wasn’t heckling LePage, he was heckling Cashman.

“He (LePage) even ad-libbed with me,” said Brown, 49. “He said, ‘We could use more people like you in Augusta.’ ”

At the taping, each new episode started with the band playing “The Nite Show” theme, followed by Cashman’s monologue, some prerecorded and live skits and a guest.

Just like Letterman or Carson, Cashman sits behind a desk, his guest in a chair, and his own sidekick, former University of Maine hockey announcer Joe Kennedy, in another chair.

Admission to the tapings is free, though donations are encouraged to help the theater. Many people in eastern Maine talk about “The Nite Show” tapings as a fun night out.

“My wife and I are usually at every taping; it’s a cheap date for us,” said Bob Merritt, 52, a middle school teacher from Clifton, east of Bangor. “I can’t stay up late enough for Letterman, but Dan is just as funny.”

BORN TO STAY UP LATE

Growing up in Old Town, where his father was a state legislator, Cashman remembers having a slumber party when he was 8 or 9 and staying up late to watch “Late Night With David Letterman.” He knew he wanted to follow Letterman’s lead, somehow.

It didn’t take him long to start on his mission.

“At about the age of 8, he turned our rec room into a studio and would interview friends and family,” said his mother, Betty Cashman. “He used our video camera while we were on a cruise when he was about 11 years old and interviewed people on the ship.”

Cashman has had three versions of this show on the air in Maine. The first was on WBGR in Bangor and began when Cashman was a freshman at the University of Maine. He had been working as the costumed mascot for Bangor’s minor league baseball team, the Blue Ox, performing as “Babe the Blue Ox.”

The team and the station began working on a children’s show starring “Babe,” but Cashman persuaded the station to do a late-night show instead. It lasted two years, until Cashman moved to New York City for the summer to intern on the national radio show of Don Imus.

Cashman tried to resurrect the show in 2001, on Bangor station WCKD. But it got canceled after a year. Cashman says he and others who worked on the show were too busy starting careers to focus on it properly.

Then, three years ago, after he had started his own business, gotten married and had a child, Cashman started “The Nite Show” once again. He is technically host and co-executive producer (Luke Bouchard is the other producer), but it’s clearly Cashman’s vision that guides the show.

Local TV managers are impressed that “The Nite Show” has gained enough of an audience to draw advertisers.

“It’s highly competitive in the demographics our advertisers want to reach,” said Steve Hiltz, program director at WABI, the Bangor station that now airs the show. “It’s been a consistently strong performer for us. We, and our advertising clients, value the fact that the ‘The Nite Show’ is a unique local offering.”

On WABI and WAGM in Presque Isle, Cashman splits ad sales with the stations. He sells half of the ads, they sell half, for each half-hour show. On WPXT in Portland, Cashman pays for the air time but gets to sell all of the ads.

He started the show by investing $7,000 in lights and sets for the Next Generation Theatre. But he made that back and now makes a profit.

People who know and work with Cashman say his persistence may be his greatest strength. He began “The Nite Show” as a college freshman, and has not given up on the idea as a 35-year-old family man.

He has pursued guests, some for years, before persuading them to come on the show.

“Dan was incredibly persistent in tracking me down,” said Summers. “We had probably been talking for 10 years before I finally did his show.”

So the fact that Cashman is 35 and not yet on network TV – as Letterman was at 35 – doesn’t have him worried.

“There’s a quote I like about how if this were easy, everyone would do it,” he said. “I am one of the most fortunate people in the world to be able to do this kind of show even on a small scale. If I could do it on a larger scale? That would be nice, but I’m realistic.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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