The board of selectmen voted unanimously to designate Chapel Road as "Kirk Minihane Way for the Day" during the Boston-based podcaster's June trip to Madawaska. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

MADAWASKA, Maine — A decision to temporarily rename a Madawaska road ended in a Twitter storm as two unlikely forces collided: longtime Massachusetts sports radio personality Kirk Minihane and the board of selectmen.

Podcast fan Jon Fetherston had formally requested that the board consider naming a street or public park in Minihane’s honor. The board voted on May 25 to temporarily rename Chapel Road to “Kirk Minihane Way for the Day” for the duration of his upcoming visit.

The original idea arose on an episode of Minihane’s Barstool Sports podcast, “The Kirk Minihane Show,” on which Madawaska and some of its residents are recurring characters. Minihane, who in his Twitter biography calls himself a “Son of Madawaska,” first visited the town at the beginning of 2020, bringing more than 100 of his fans for an ice fishing derby.

Minihane and his fans, the Minifans, are returning to Madawaska on June 12 for another live show and weekend of activities.

The board agreed at its May 25 meeting that while it appreciated Minihane and the Minifans, renamings were too complicated logistically and that there were other longtime Madawaska residents deserving of such permanent honors. The temporary solution was the board’s compromise.

Minifan Rob Doherty, who drove more than 10 hours to represent Minihane at the May 25 meeting, highlighted the fans’ financial contributions to the town during their last annual visit, estimating that Minifans spent tens of thousands of dollars in Madawaska. Doherty didn’t give any resistance to the board’s decision at the time, though he said that he couldn’t speak for Minihane or the show.

But Minihane was displeased, even outraged with the board’s decision — particularly with the fact that the renaming would be temporary. He said he would rather that the board had rejected the idea entirely. In the first few minutes of a May 28 episode of his podcast, Minihane directed his intern to throw out his Key to Madawaska plaque.

The board of selectmen voted unanimously to designate Chapel Road as “Kirk Minihane Way for the Day” during the Boston-based podcaster’s June trip to Madawaska. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

“You’ve got to go all in or all out. You can’t dip your toe in,” Minihane said in a later interview.

Minihane spoke out against the board’s decision on Twitter, retweeting a Fiddlehead Focus story on the board meeting and condemning the decision. The Minifans decried the board’s move and mocked the selectmen who appeared in the story.

One target of the Minifans’ outrage was Selectman Jason Boucher, who said that while he respected Minihane and the show, he felt others in the area were more deserving — a sentiment the board agreed on. But fans latched onto the quote, leveling personal attacks against Boucher online.

Boucher joined the roster of guests on the May 28 episode of “The Kirk Minihane Show” to work out the disagreement. Minihane asked that the board not do anything temporary — especially not dub Chapel Road “Kirk Minihane Way for the Day.”

“If that sign goes up there that weekend, then the show is off. We’re canceling everything,” Minihane said during the podcast. “I don’t want to be insulted. I don’t want to be babied.”

During the show, Boucher agreed to steer the board in another direction. Later, he said he would suggest another idea, like a plaque near the beach where Minihane plans to host activities during his June visit.

“I believe ‘The Kirk Minihane Show’ does bring something great to this community, and we want to work with them to come up with something that does feel honorable for recognition,” Boucher said during an interview.

Meanwhile, Minihane said he appreciated Boucher coming on the show, and hopes to maintain a positive relationship with Madawaska. Minihane said he’s fascinated with small towns, and with Madawaska in particular, given its unique position as a border town and as New England’s northernmost outpost.

“For the fans who listen every day, I think they made a real connection — it’s sort of our adopted home,” Minihane said. “I would never want to have Madawaska not be part of the show.”

That said: “If I’m treated like a child again, then I’ll have to find somewhere else.”

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Hannah Catlin is a reporter at the St. John Valley Times/Fiddlehead Focus in Madawaska, Maine.