I had the pleasure of meeting Kit Hayden several times in my capacity as a reporter, most often in his role as co-host of the Lincoln County Television show “Wuzzup.”
“Wuzzup” is a talk show now, but a few years back, Kit and co-host Bobby Whear did a longer show – one part on some community event and one part commentary on the most recent edition of The Lincoln County News.
Occasionally one or the other would tell me what they were going to do next and I would tag along and report on the same thing.
We covered the building of the trail for the CLC YMCA Zombie Run together and reported on the workings of the Great Salt Bay Sanitary District, where Bobby and Kit were trustees.
In my interactions with Kit, he struck me as a kind, soft-spoken man with a dry sense of humor. I didn’t know him well, though, so I asked Bobby Whear to say a few words about his friend.
The story of “Wuzzup” begins with an earlier LCTV show, “Art’s Grab Bag.” Art Mayers and the late Sam Pennington started the show. When Pennington passed away, Mayers asked Whear to take his place. Whear agreed, but wanted to change the name.
Mayers and Whear hosted “Wuzzup” for a couple years until Mayers left for Mexico. Mayers recommended Hayden as a replacement, but Whear was skeptical.
“Originally I didn’t think it was going to work because he had that edge about him,” Whear said. “We’re complete opposites.”
Hayden would become locally famous for his quiet sense of humor, which Whear described as “crusty but not hurtful” and “sarcastic” but warm.
“If he made a crack, you kind of had to think about it,” Whear said. “It wasn’t right up in the forefront.”
But viewers responded to his subtle wit.
“After the show got going and I watched it and we got feedback from different people, we realized it was a good blend,” Whear said.
The “complete opposites” complemented each other well. “It made the show more of a roller coaster,” Whear said.
Hayden was a regular in community theater productions. “I think (‘Wuzzup’) was his way to get a theater fix once a week without the rigamarole of remembering lines,” Whear said.
He enjoyed their forays into the community to film shows.
“We met people we never would have met, ever, by going out and becoming part of their lives for a brief moment,” Whear said.
In one of Whear’s favorite shows with Hayden, from March 3, 2011, the co-hosts venture out onto a frozen Great Salt Bay to talk to ice fishermen.
“The smelt shanty show is a classic, ’cause no one knew we were coming and we were tapping on the doors of the smelt shanties,” Whear said.
Hayden and Whear didn’t know each other well before the show, but soon became friends. “We had a connection, no doubt about it,” Whear said.
Hayden co-hosted the show until he was too ill to continue. Larry Sidelinger, author of the “Truckin’ in America” column in The Lincoln County News and owner of Damariscotta-based Yankee Pride Transport, now co-hosts the show with Whear.
Although Kit had not hosted the show in more than a year when he passed away March 14, the “Wuzzup” crew only recently replaced the studio sign that read “Wuzzup with Bobby Whear & Kit Hayden.”
Whear brought the old sign to Hayden’s home, where someone put it up over his bed.
“He died with a ‘Wuzzup’ sign over him,” Whear said.
To watch classic episodes of “Wuzzup” with Hayden and Whear, go to lctv.org and click on “video on demand.”