Op-Ed : What we will miss
"You don't know what you've got till it's gone," as the saying goes, really captures the essence of what is about to happen to WMVY, the Island's radio station. The voices that we all have become so familiar with and the people behind those voices that we have come to rely on for a multitude of reasons, all of which are important to our daily lives in one way or another, are about to be silenced.
When I was contacted last week by Barbara Dacey, a longtime friend and employee of WMVY, and more importantly a well-known on-air personality and community supporter, to share the news of WMVY's fate, I just couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it and, as you will no doubt see, am still struggling with the consequences of the decision to take WMVY off the air.
How could this jewel of a community radio station, the soundtrack of our lives on the Vineyard for almost 30 years, be losing its all-too-familiar 92.7 frequency?
During all of those years, WMVY has remained one of the many very special parts of my life on the Vineyard. In the early 1980s, when WMVY first "hit the airwaves" as an automated station, I was working for Mark Lender Goldsmith. The station was new and trying to find its identity and routinely had glitches, most notably dead air. Mark, with his dry sense of humor, wanted the station to run an ad which stated, "When you hear dead air — remember Mark Lender Goldsmith."
In spite of those occasional mishaps in the early days, Vineyarders continued to listen and support began to grow for this fledgling radio station. Today WMVY has become an integral part of Vineyard life and one that we cannot afford to lose.
I joined WMVY as a sales executive and later became its general manager. Getting involved in the early years was an exciting and rewarding experience for me personally and also for the many talented people that made WMVY a success through their hard work and dedication. They deserve our sincere gratitude for what they have accomplished and what they have added to our lives,
From the beginning, it was the goal of WMVY, its management, and staff to be a local resource for the Vineyard in very practical ways, and they have been true to their commitment. Where would we be without their public service announcements, local news and weather, and Steamship Authority reports. Ask yourself, how will this important information get communicated in the future? In addition, please don't forget their longstanding support for our local nonprofits, including their sponsorship of events that have raised much needed funds or their making the station's resources available for on air interviews so worthy causes may communicate their messages to the public. Covering local high school sports has allowed Vineyard families access to games that otherwise would have been missed.
The music format was introduced in the 1980s. It worked then and it continues to work today. WMVY's personal approach to programing allowed the talented on air professionals to share their passions for a wide variety of music, old and new, reaching out to listeners of all age groups and musical tastes. Where else can you find a radio station that showcases local artists that we all know and enjoy?
Time is running out, and this may have been the last year that you could have tuned in to WMVY and listened to Arlo Guthrie sing Alice's Restaurant at noon on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that's been around almost 30 years. WMVY's management and staff are now attempting to stay alive as a nonprofit commercial-free Internet station, streaming daily to the thousands of listeners who tune in, while they continue to search for another FM frequency to serve the Vineyard.
In order to accomplish this goal, WMVY needs to raise $600,000, to fund their operations during this critical transition period. They have launched a campaign to raise funds to support their new mission and friendsofmvy.org is now accepting pledges, to be collected only if they reach their goal within the next eight to 10 weeks. Can it be accomplished in such a short period of time? I sincerely hope so, for it would be a significant loss to our Vineyard community if WMVY were silenced completely.
While WMVY has fulfilled the needs of a diverse listening audience for all these years, the one common element that I feel certain about is that its existence has become important to all of us. For me, it is difficult to imagine waking up each weekday morning without Laurel Redington's voice, on Sunday mornings without Sunday Morning and All that Jazz, or on any morning without the local news and weather. What will you miss?