The Working Waterfront

Character matters—Don Carrigan’s 50 years of storytelling

From his home in Lincoln County, Maine is TV reporter’s beat

By Johnathan Riley
Posted 2023-10-23
Last Modified 2023-10-23

Don Carrigan of WCSH-TV is considered by many to be one of Maine’s most trusted journalists and broadcasters. His 50-year career in Maine news has taken him from Portland to Bangor and everywhere in between. In 2016, Carrigan was inducted into the Maine Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Carrigan lives in the Lincoln County coastal community of Walpole, where he grew up.
This story first appeared in the Lincoln County News, and is reprinted with permission and gratitude.

When Don Carrigan isn’t landscaping or working in the garden of his home in Walpole where he lives with his wife Donna, he’s working at maintaining the trust he’s built with Maine communities as one of the state’s most beloved media figures.

The award-winning broadcast journalist for WCSH-TV 6 has been broadcasting the news in Maine communities from Bangor to Portland for the last 50 years.

“You report on the life all around you,” Carrigan said, sitting at his kitchen table, in the same house he grew up in.

Carrigan graduated high school from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle in 1969.

At the University of Maine, he pursued a marine biology degree, but after the throes of high level science courses, he made a degree change where leaned into something he already loved being involved in: WMEB 91.9, the university’s radio station.

“I was fascinated by the idea that you could sit in a little room and your voice go out to the world,” Carrigan said. “And it quickly became apparent to me that I was not a dedicated enough student to pull off that degree.”

He graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in speech, with a concentration in broadcasting.

“I was fascinated by the idea that you could sit in a little room and your voice go out to the world.”

Carrigan’s broadcasting career started during the summer of 1973, before his last semester at the University of Maine, when he juggled part-time media jobs. By the fall, he was working full time for WLBZ-TV in Bangor, where he became the station’s news director over his 19 years there.

In the early 1990s, Carrigan worked for U.S. Sen. Bill Cohen before going on to work for Maine Public Broadcasting, now known as Maine Public, and then WCSH 6 in Portland to report on politics and the Midcoast.

“I cared a lot about what I did in Bangor,” Carrigan said. “But there’s an extra level of care when I’m reporting about home.”

While he doesn’t do the daily news anymore, he is still the state house bureau chief for NewsCenter and does weekly stories for 207, the station’s nightly news magazine show.

“I have to take a slightly different approach for stories for 207 than I would with daily stories,” Carrigan said. “I try to find a larger theme to use.”

Carrigan accolades include two New England Emmy Awards, one in 2015 for his story “What Makes Them Run?,” a gubernatorial candidate profile, and another in 2023 for “Lombard’s Genius,” a story about Maine native Alvin Lombard, who invented the endless track, now used on everything from bulldozers to tanks.

“Larger theme or not, you always try to find character,” Carrigan said. “Alvin Lombard was the character in that story, but you could argue it was his invention.”

Carrigan has interviewed and broadcast with the best of them, but perhaps his most famous on-screen companion was his 26-pound orange Maine Coon cat, Togus, who passed away in 2012. Togus grew famous in the early 2000s doing Carrigan’s StormCenter updates from the kitchen table

These days Carrigan and his wife have two golden retrievers, Shyanne and Xavier, and two cats, Togus Jr. and Wally.
Carrigan’s love for his work hasn’t diminished, although a few things have pushed him to slow down. In 2009 Carrigan’s sight had deteriorated to the point where he was no longer able to drive

“With enough planning, and with immense gratitude of my wife, Donna, photographers, to friends, I’m able to get most places,” Carrigan said.

“I’m in a young person’s business at an age when almost nobody still is. I’m well aware of that, but it’s still fun, it’s still challenging, and creative.”

Carrigan’s longevity may stem from his fascination for how the world around him works, and his love for his home.

“I’m a terrible mechanic myself, but I love machines and I’m fascinated with how stuff works,” he said. “Might that be mechanical, or political; the delight I get in being able to explain, to make something make sense, is incredible.”