Fund drive saves WMVY radio; will stream live for now

WMVY's studio and tower on Martha's Vineyard. WMVY's studio and tower on Martha's Vineyard.

WMVY's studio and tower on Martha's Vineyard.

WMVY’s studio and tower on Martha’s Vineyard.

Aquidneck station to broadcast WMVY on airwaves

After 59 days of on-air fund raising targeting the islands, South Coast and Cape Cod, the Friends of mvyradio’s effort to save the popular radio station has been accomplished.

For now the station will continue to stream on-line but friends of WMVY also hope to get it back onto the airwaves.

That happened last week for some local listeners last week thanks to an an agreement between Friends of mvyradio and Rhode Island Public Radio. Listeners in the greater Newport, RI area will continue to be able to hear mvyradio on 96.5 FM as well as on the internet.

It’s a mildly complex arrangement.  First, Rhode Island Public Radio will continue to broadcast its regular local public radio programming from its Narragansett station on 102.7 FM.  Second, with digital HD radio technology, Rhode Island Public Radio will add a second channel carrying mvyradio’s programming from Martha’s Vineyard.  Third, by acting as a relay, Rhode Island Public Radio enables the Newport station on 96.5 to continue to broadcast mvyradio to regular FM radios. Narragansett Bay listeners who don’t have a digital HD Radio receiver can continue to listen to mvyradio on the Newport 96.5 FM signal.

“The passion and concern of our Newport listeners during the Save mvyradio campaign was very evident,” said PJ Finn, mvyradio program director.  “In just a few short years on 96.5, we have made a strong connection to Aquidneck Island, and are thrilled that this connection will remain strong.”

In the meantime, the station’s on-air replacement, WBUR, debuted recently at the former 92.7 FM, the home location of

WMVY. WBUR is Boston’s National Public Radio news station.

“Thanks to more than 3,000 pledges, the goal of $600,000 was reached,” Mr. Finn said.

The $600,000 enables the station to continue streaming its iconic, independent programming as a fully non-profit, commercial-free operation. Friends of mvyradio will continue to search for a permanent new home on the FM dial.

For decades, the station’s mix of blues, folk,  jazz and other music could be found at 92.7 on the FM dial. But on November 27, 2012, WBUR, a Boston NPR affiliate, announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire WMVY’s station and transmitter for use as a repeater for their Boston based programming schedule, under the call letters WBUA.

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

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

In the non-profit framework, Friends of mvyradio will operate with minimal changes. The staff will remain in place, as will MVY’s popular programming and style. Rather than rely on commercial advertising, the station will now seek underwriting funds, similar to other non-profit, commercial-free broadcasting operations.

“This outcome has always seemed to be the best fit for mvyradio,” said Joe Gallagher, president of Aritaur Communications. “To preserve this broadcasting treasure in a format that better suits its programming and wide listener support. I’m delighted with this result.”

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