By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
WMVY/mvyradio on Martha’s Vinevard is trying to raise $600,000 in pledges immediately and they need help. Otherwise, they will soon go off the air.
In late November, they announced that the 92.7 FM signal is being sold to WBUR, a Boston NPR station. The sale will allow Aritaur Communications, the company that currently owns the signal, to resolve its obligations to the bank and donate remaining assets to the non-profit Friends of mvyradio.
The funds will cover the first year’s operating budget. If they can secure it, they are in a good position to continue as a non-commercial and non-profit station, funded by listeners and underwriters. In years to come, they plan to rely on grants and other mediums to keep the signal going.
Whether they raise the money or not, said Program Director and DJ PJ Finn, the station will no longer operate on 92.7 FM. However, there is a possibility they will end up on another place on the FM dial and they will continue to air via the web. As of the posting of this story on http://www.limelightmagazine.com, they’ve raised $300,028 in pledges, which represent 2,909 individual pledges.
“We are moving along at a great pace,” said Finn. “The letters we’re getting are just incredible. There are people who are making very generous donations and saying, ‘I wish I could do more. I listen to you every day and if I lost you I don’t know what I’d do.’”
Finn, who has been with the station since 2000, said there are roughly 12-full-time employees and 12 part-time workers at WMVY. He and the rest of the staff are grateful for the outpouring of support so far, including efforts made by the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. Executive Director of the Narrows, Patrick Norton, sent a letter explaining the situation and asking music lovers to lend a hand.
In the letter, Norton noted that WMVY has always supported and promoted the Narrows, and provides “great music to our friends and fans…They are one of the last bastions of independent radio stations.”
In response, Finn said he’s thrilled that the Narrows is reaching out on WMVY’s behalf.
“We’ve had a really great relationship with them and they’ve been amazing partners to us,” he said. “They’ve let us come in and stream some of their shows live and that’s been great for our audience, but it’s also great promotion for the Narrows. We really help each other out.”
But WMVY needs all the support they can get. Finn is hoping more fans make pledges.
“There are people out there in the listening audience who could help us reach our goal in leaps, as opposed to steps, and we’re really hoping to reach out to those people,” he said. “If you’ve never listened to the station, listen in for a couple of hours and ask yourself, ‘Is there anything else like this on the dial?’ It’s such a rarity and worth being kept alive.”
Finn went on to say that there are far less independent radio stations compared to the past and there is both a need and a desire from the listening audience for such a thing. He said while they have a few homegrown specialty shows, it’s mostly their “straightforward” programming.
“We can probably name in 60 seconds 25 artists that MVY plays that you couldn’t hear anywhere else up or down the dial,” said Finn.
Those artists are from various genres, including David Bromberg, The Band, World Party, Paul Weller, Alabama Shakes and several more.
Additionally, he pointed out a “trend” in many other radio stations: they are moving away from a local feel.
“If you’ve never listened to WMVY, you would know in a very brief amount of time that it was coming from the island of Martha’s Vineyard because we talk about the area, we talk about local news, and we talk about local happenings,” Finn said. “We try to reflect the spirit of the place.”
Finn also has a personal affection for his position at the station. He enjoys getting the opportunity to share music that he’s excited about.
“I like that I can play new bands that I know that our listeners are going to love and have people call up and say, ‘Wow. I’m so glad you discovered this artist. I never heard of them on any other station,’” he said. “That’s why I do the job I do.”
Pledges can be made online at friendsofmvyradio.org by credit card. Checks can be made payable to “Friends of mvyradio” and sent to WMVY, PO Box 1148, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Checks will not be cashed unless the goal is met. To call in a pledge, contact Marianna at 508-693-5000.
Visit MVYRadio.com for more information.
Editor’s Note: The sale is technically still in process, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must approve it. However, all the essential paperwork has been filed. Finn expects the FCC will approve the deal early this month.