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Friends rally to save WMVY, a South Coast radio favorite

By   /   January 21, 2013  /   Be the first to comment

WMVYLogoRadio station WMVY, which has been a mainstay of the South Coast and Cape and islands for nearly 30 years and an internet success, is entering the final stretch in its Save mvyradio fund raising campaign, with nearly 3,000 listeners already pledging more than $480,000 towards the $600,000 goal. The list of contributors includes residents of Westport and Little Compton among other area towns.

The effort, led by station staff and mvyradio supporters, is aimed at saving the independent sound and converting mvyradio to a fully non-profit, commercial-free operation. The move was prompted by the sale of the WMVY-FM frequency, 92.7, to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston looking to expand its listener base to this region.

“We are incredibly grateful to our listeners for digging deep and helping us save this independent, one-a-kind station,” said PJ Finn, mvyradio’s program director. “We’re grateful for the generosity of every single listener who has stepped up and pledged, but we’re not there yet. While we are confident we can make it, we do need to close that

The WMVY station and antenna on Martha's Vineyard. (NECRAT Tower & Antenna Photograhy)

NECRAT Tower & Antenna Photograhy

The WMVY station and antenna on Martha’s Vineyard. (NECRAT Tower & Antenna Photograhy)

gap and time is running out.”

The sale by Aritaur Communications to WBUR is now before the FCC, with a decision expected early this year. While Aritaur will use the sale proceeds to resolve its financial obligations, it is donating mvyradio’s assets, including all the content and equipment to the non-profit Friends of mvyradio which is administered by Public Radio Capital.

Friends of mvyradio would operate “mvyradio” as an online radio station, keeping all its current local programming, music and online content in place. At the same time, Friends of mvyradio would continue to seek a return to the FM dial. The $600,000 goal is what’s needed to cover the first year of operating expenses.

With time running out, the staff is moving into the final phase of the pledge drive. Once the sale is cleared, the transfer is expected to happen within 10 days.

The average pledge from listeners is $140. The largest single-day collection happened on January 9, netting over $85,000, thanks to listeners and a generous, anonymous donor who matched every pledge that day, dollar-for-dollar. A second day of matching, on January 16th, netted another $60,000.

Additional facts about the Save mvyradio campaign:

  • The current total is over $480,000, coming from 3,054 listeners.
  • Roughly one-third of the pledges have come from Massachusetts, with donors also hailing from 48 states and 14 countries, including New Zealand, England, France, the Czech Republic, Australia, Italy, Canada, Oman, and Israel.
  • The $600,000 mark represents one year’s operating budget for the station, and will keep all current programming in place. If the campaign is successful, the station will sell underwriting to help with those costs going forward.
  • The actual end date of WMVY on 92.7 FM will depend on when the FCC clears the sale of the signal. The transfer could occur as soon as the end of the January.
  • No deal is in place yet to return mvyradio to the FM dial, but options are being pursued and Friends of mvyradio is hopeful.
  • Artists who have sent recorded messages about the pledge drive include Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Patty Larkin, and Jason Spooner. In addition, Carly Simon, Lyle Lovett, Kate Taylor, Tom Major of Entrain, and Ryan Montbleau have spoken to the media about the impact of mvyradio and the importance of keeping it going.

Quotes from Artists and Listeners regarding Save mvyradio:

  • From an interview with Bonnie Raitt, aired on mvyradio on Wednesday, January 16th, talking about discovering new songwriters: “The reason we all know so much of this music is because of radio stations like yours, which I have to say, I stream when I’m out here in California and out on the road. One of my favorite stations in the country. This is one of the ways I find out about songwriters and music that is under the radar. . . radio stations like yours have a great deal of impact on how I find my new music.”
  • Quote from summer visitor and musician Jason Spooner: “To this day one of my favorite childhood memories is our annual family summer pilgrimage to Cape Cod in mid-June. Every year my little brother sister and I would count the telltale signs that were clear indications that we were nearing the Cape and the Islands. The sea air, the stop for a bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips and the sound of Barbara Dacey’s unmistakably wonderful voice broadcasting across the Vineyard Sound and into our car speakers on MVY. It is very troubling and sad to think that this station is in jeopardy of going away forever, taking with it decades of memories just like mine.”
  • An email from listener Erica Szuplat of Falmouth, an mvyradio listener who pledged: “It’s not just that there are people on air, but very real people who are a very real part of my world. They aren’t just filling a role on air, but are a living breathing part of the community I live in. The music they are sharing means something in my life, that I am part of a community that is bigger than any one of us alone- that we are all connected. That is what mvyradio means to me.”
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