WMVY radio announces $600,000 in pledges

The MVY crew posed for a celebratory photo at the Big Chili contest Saturday. From left to right: Greg Orcutt, PJ Finn, Bill Narkiewicz, Ray Whitaker, Jess Phaneuf, Megan Ward, Laurel Redington, Barbara Dacey and Mike Gilman (kneeling in front).
Photo by Ralph Stewart

The MVY crew posed for a celebratory photo at the Big Chili contest Saturday. From left to right: Greg Orcutt, PJ Finn, Bill Narkiewicz, Ray Whitaker, Jess Phaneuf, Megan Ward, Laurel Redington, Barbara Dacey and Mike Gilman (kneeling in front).

WMVY radio has a new lease on life, at least on the Internet. The longtime Vineyard radio station announced late Friday afternoon that it had $600,000 in pledges before January 30.

“We Made It!,” was the announcement posted on the Friends of MVYradio website (mvy.org). “We have reached our goal of $600,000. This means we will continue on into 2013 on the web. We hope to return to the FM band too.”

The scramble to survive on the Internet as a nonprofit listener-supported Internet station and find a new FM signal began in November. After nearly three decades, the Island’s local FM station lost its 92.7 spot on the FM dial when Boston public radio station WBUR purchased the radio station in order to acquire its signal.

The MVY staff launched its public fundraising campaign to cover one year’s operating expenses. More than 3,716 people pledged various amounts.

“While pledges we have taken since late November have secured our operating budget for 2013, we are already starting to look ahead,” station leaders said in a message posted on the station website Friday.

Station leaders described the costs to continue programming. “$600,000 covers the entire operating budget of mvyradio for one year. The collected pledges will allow our programming in 2013 to be exactly the same as 2012. We can keep all the same DJs and same shows and same local content. The $600,000 covers the myriad things that go into maintaining a business — costs associated with the building, office supplies, and computer equipment. It will pay for our music licensing fees to BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and Sound Exchange. It covers web-related costs such as bandwidth and hosting costs. And it will pay the salaries of the dozen full-time and dozen part-time employees that keep mvyradio running.”

The fundraisers celebrated on Saturday at the 27th annual Big Chili contest, a fundraiser the station sponsors for the Red Stocking Fund.

MVY to NPR

The FCC cleared the WBUR purchase this month. WBUR has not announced when the switch will take place, but MVY could lose its spot on the FM dial at any time.

MVY said it plans to continue its Internet streaming and be available to listeners via computers, Internet radio devices, smartphones, and tablets while simultaneously trying to find a way to return programming to the FM dial.

WBUR, a Boston public radio station with offices at Boston University, will broadcast the same radio programming it airs in Boston on MVY’s FM frequency, 92.7 FM.

WBUR’s current 50,000-watt signal on 90.9 FM is heard across all of metropolitan Boston and eastern Massachusetts.

WBUR bought WMVY, a 3,000-watt station, in order to expand its geographical reach on Cape Cod and the islands. The move opens a new front in WBUR’s competition with rival Boston public radio station WGBH and puts it in direct competition with WCAI, a WGBH affiliate in Woods Hole. WCAI uses WMVY’s radio antenna tower and has plans to boost its signal strength at that location.

An institution on the Island for nearly three decades, the quirky WMVY highlighted a mix of local news, played and promoted Island musicians, and offered local sports programming. But WMVY executives said the company was not solvent, and it was no longer feasible for parent company Aritaur Communications, a small privately held company based in Newport, Rhode Island, to cover the losses.

Signs that the station was struggling were evident in May 2007, when the station announced that, faced with a sizeable increase in royalty payments, it would transform its web business model from an advertiser supported business to one supported by listeners and corporate underwriting similar to public radio and called “Friends of mvyradio.”