Beth McEvoy – A Reporter for 207 Who Travels the State for Great Stories

Beth McEvoy – A Reporter for 207 Who Travels the State for Great Stories

Beth McEvoy beams into our houses each evening, all throughout Maine, via the popular nightly TV features show, 207. Beth reports on two to three stories a week for the show, which is allied with NewsCenterMaine.   

Independent and resourceful as a journalist, Beth is generally filming herself as she does these stories. As she says matter-of-factly, “I shoot with my iPhone. I shoot with a GoPro. And I shoot with my news camera.” She has interviewed a remarkable array of people over the years she has been on 207, winning an Edward R. Murrow award and getting three regional Emmy nominations. Throughout all, she says she continually marvels at the variety and greatness of what people in Maine are doing.  

On this recent occasion, I was thrilled to “turn the tables,” and get to interview Beth.  Her dedication to community shines through in every aspect of her conversation.  What an extraordinary woman, with a talent and generosity for telling the important stories that weave us together.   

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Mary: 

A familiar voice from TV!  Now, you grew up in Maine, is that correct?  

Beth: 

Yes. I was born in Massachusetts, but I think we moved here when I was two. I was raised in Wells, Maine, and I went to Wells High School. 

My parents were from Massachusetts, but they came up every summer to Wells Beach—my grandparents had a house on Wells Beach. My parents always knew that when they grew their family, they wanted to raise them in Wells. My dad actually bought 20 acres of land when I was really little, and he built our home.  

Now I built a home, right up the street, and my sister lives down the street. We live on this private dirt road in Wells.  We all live next to each other, and it’s wonderful. We enjoy the outdoors, so my husband and son surf, and I paddleboard. We’re seven miles from the beach, and the schools are great. Wells is perfect for raising children!  

Mary: 

That is wonderful. How did you come to get your job with 207? 

Beth: 

As soon as I graduated high school, I actually moved to Argentina, and I was a foreign exchange student for a year. I loved that experience. Then I went to school in Utah at Utah State University, also a great experience, and I met my husband who’s from there. We started moving around for his job, and we lived in Arkansas. That’s where I started in public radio. I worked for KUAR, the public radio station in Little Rock. I was a reporter and anchored All Things Considered 

Next, we moved back to Utah, and I did freelance work for Utah Public Radio, UPR. Growing up, at first I was forced to listen to public radio because my dad always had it on in the car. Then, you don’t realize as a kid, but you’re actually listening to it, too. As I got older, I came to appreciate it and know that I loved public radio. Anyway, I was so happy to work for them. 

But when we moved back to Maine, six years ago, I decided to make the leap to broadcast, and it was a thrill because I started to get to work with all these people who I grew up watching. 

Mary: 

Have you ever had a story that’s just blown your socks off? 

Beth: 

Yes. All the time, actually. I’ve talked to filmmakers, authors, musicians, actors, chefs, artists, politicians, and they’re all amazing. But I also like the smaller stories. I met this woman who’s passed away now. Her name was Dottie Brown. When I met her, she was 104 years old, and she still lived in her own home, the home where her and her husband had raised their children. She would host a knitting night every week with friends from church. Her mom had made her knit when she was four, so she had been doing it for 100 years. She had a picture of herself when she was little, sitting in a rocking chair and crying, because her mom would make her master socks. Her mom would make her do a sock, then undo it, and redo it so that she could learn how to knit. Dottie was amazing.  

More recently, I got to go out on a lobster boat with Virginia Oliver. She is 101 years old, and she still goes out three days a week with her 78-year-old son. And I mean, she sat on the edge of the boat. Okay. I’m talking to her. There’s no place to sit except for just the edge of the boat. And she’s sitting there while her son is driving like 24 knots and just leaning back like you would in a chair. And I asked, “Are you worried about falling?” She said, “No!” She was steadier on her feet on the boat than off the boat. She doesn’t think she’s a big deal, and I’m just in awe of her. So, it’s people like that really touch me—their attitudes. 

I’ve had other stories that really have moved me. I met these two guys in Kennebunk who get up every morning, walk the beach, and they pick up trash. Every morning. They’ve been doing it for over five years. They’re just the nicest people, and they want to make their community better. Smaller stories like these really inspire me because I love people, I love my community, and I believe in bettering our community. And so, when people are doing that, in these unique ways, I love it. 

Mary: 

Your work and home life mesh well, it sounds like, and you kept the balance during COVID? 

Beth: 

I have one son. He’s 14. My husband and I, we’ve been married for almost 17 years this August. They are both so great—so supportive. They watch many of my stories and give me feedback.  

I turn in about two to three stories a week, so I am on the road, shooting two to three stories a week. I’m really content with what I’m doing. Even during the pandemic, I still was able to go out and meet with people and safely distance because with a camera you can be far away. That’s a nice thing. I’m a one-man band. I’m what’s called an MMJ, multimedia journalist. I don’t work with a photographer typically. I write, shoot, and edit my own material. t’s easier, in the sense of being flexible and independent. 

Mary: 

Unbelievable. So, you set up your own camera and then shoot yourself interviewing? 

Beth: 

Yes. And I usually use at least three cameras every time I shoot. I shoot with my iPhone. I shoot with a GoPro. And I shoot with my news camera. So, there’s lots to choose from. 

Mary: 

When you first got the job, did you come with all those talents and abilities, of having to run the camera and edit the footage and everything? 

Beth: 

No. I didn’t. I started as a producer at NewsCenterMaine. Then I moved over to our digital team. And when I was on the digital team, I started to learn how to shoot and edit. 

It’s fun. It’s so fun. And NewsCenter, there are just so many talented people there who are great about teaching. You can really go as far as you want to go there because it’s such a great culture of, “Oh, you want to learn how to do this? Great, let’s show you. Let’s get you a camera, let’s do it!”  

At the station, it’s a hard job, and it’s demanding. The hours are long, and the rides can be long. But you work with wonderful people, you get to meet wonderful people, and you get to do amazing things. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been lobstering with the oldest woman probably in the world who lobsters.  You get to see and do really, really cool things. The people I work with, specifically on our 207 team, are all just absolutely amazing people. And Amanda Hill, Rob Caldwell, Peggy Kaiser, and our photographer Kirk Crowley are just amazing, amazing people. It’s a wonderful environment to work in. 

Mary: 

Have you found Maine change at all since you have been observing it?  

Beth: 

Not so much, except for one thing. Maine land is so heavily privatized that access to the water can be really challenging for people. I did a story with these women who swim in the water in the winter, and we were talking about the ocean. This girl grew up in Bangor, and she said, “A lot of the kids I grew up with, they had never even been to the ocean.” That’s incredible to me. 

I’m passionate about telling stories about the outdoors—I love the outdoors. I always have. Our family, we play outdoors a lot. So, access to the water and access to outdoor Maine things are subjects that are always on my mind.  

I did a story up in Stonington which was inspired by my husband. He said, “You should do a story about this.” So, we went up there years ago. The story in Stonington was that basically on that island, Deer Isle, there are few public access points to the water. Unless you own property right on the water, you have very limited access. And the story was about a campground this man had created. You could rent kayaks and you could go out to this archipelago, this chain of islands, and visit them through his campground. He tried to work with a conservation trust to get this place to become part of the State of Maine so it would be public use. But it didn’t work out, and he needed to retire for health reasons. So he had to sell it privately, and it broke his heart. A private person bought it.  

So no, I don’t see a lot of change in Maine. But . . . the coast used to be populated with all these little old campy cottages, and now people are tearing those down, and they’re building [higher homes].  I’m a big believer that things like that, like the coast, are meant for every person. Everyone should have access to those things. 

Mary: 

How do you stay nonpolitical?  

Beth: 

Of course, I have my own values, and I’m a religious person, but as much as I can I check that at the door when I’m doing a story.  For the most part I do features, which makes it easy. Just a couple months ago I interviewed Barney Frank, just a feature about his life. That was kind of funny. The reason that I interviewed Barney Frank is because I backed into his car. 

As I told on 207, when airing my interview with him, I was out with my sister for her birthday, and I backed into his car. I was in a parking lot, so I just barely scraped it. Still, I definitely dinged it, and I had to go in and introduce myself and say, “I’m sorry, I just hit your car. Let’s exchange insurance information.” He goes, “How bad is it?” I showed him a picture of the damage. He’s like, “Don’t worry about it.” I was like, “Are you sure?” And he told me a story, that when he came out as a gay man, one of our first politicians to ever come out as gay, somebody said to him, “Geez, Barney, you’re looking better. You’re working out, you’re dressing better. But you still drive a piece-of-crap car.” And he replied, “I don’t date cars,” or something like that. He is a very non materialistic person. He’s always driven cars that are pretty old, and he just didn’t care about it. I was so grateful, of course, that he was so kind to me. But then also it was wonderful because I got to meet him. We ended up doing a really wonderful sit down, talking about his life, the work that he’s done as a politician, and his strong connection to Maine because he does live here now. 

Mary: 

Are your other family members involved in journalism?  

Beth: 

No. My father was an engineer at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and my mother was a teacher. I actually have six siblings, and everybody does something different. I grew up in a large family which is awesome. I feel very blessed. I love all my siblings. My sister is a real estate agent. My twin brother works in finance. And so on.  But I everybody’s very supportive of each other. Growing up in a supporting, loving home is a great foundation and good fortune. You really believe, “I can do whatever I want.” 

Mary: 

What aspect of your job do you particularly like?  

Beth: 

If you have a friendship with someone, it often takes a while to get to know them and then get to know the details of their life. But as a reporter, you walk in, and you have this platform where you can ask them anything. So, you get to know people more quickly, and often it’s really intense.  

I did this story with a woman who had been married, and she and her husband had wanted to climb Mount Katahdin. But as they started, he started to have a heart issue, and a couple months later he passed away. So, she made it her goal to get in shape and follow through and do it, and she did. I interviewed her at the base of Katahdin Mountain. She was getting ready to go up the next day to climb it a second time. We’re sitting there talking about her husband who died and how much she loved him. We are both crying. It’s amazing because you get to connect with people. Do you know what I mean? 

Mary: 

I do. 

Beth: 

I care about people, and I want to tell their stories. I do genuinely believe that just about everybody has at least one story to tell. Maybe you couldn’t do a series on them, but everybody has something. 

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