Early Saturday morning, longtime Martha’s Vineyard radio station WMVY will be replaced at 92.7 on the FM dial by Boston NPR news station WBUR.
The Boston station announced it will throw the switch at midnight. “For the debut, WBUR will broadcast a custom showcase of its signature shows, not previously heard in this new market,” WBUR said in a press release.
The sign-on follows the closing of the sale of 92.7’s 3,000-watt signal to WBUR by Aritaur Communications, which is expected to occur on Friday.
“The islands, Cape Cod and ‘SouthCoast’ are vital to the state we cover and serve. But until now most residents could not get our signal,” said WBUR general manager Charlie Kravetz. “We have the largest radio newsroom in New England and are thrilled to provide our outstanding local news reporting — along with our signature programs like On Point, Here & Now, Radio Boston and Only A Game — to these important Massachusetts communities.”
The acquisition boosts the reach of WBUR’s broadcasts to more than 60,000 prospective new listeners on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, as well as in New Bedford, Fall River, Falmouth, Westport, Marion, and other Massachusetts SouthCoast locations, according to the press release.
At 7 am, WBUR’s regular Saturday schedule begins with Only A Game, the WBUR and NPR sports show hosted by Bill Littlefield. The entire lineup is available at wbur.org.
“WBUR is thrilled to have a new home on Martha’s Vineyard, and we’re looking forward to exploring ways that our commitment to news and programming will benefit listeners in the area,” said Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming for WBUR.
WMVY radio general manager Greg Orcutt said the signal switch means a new lease on life for the local broadcaster. The station secured $600,000 in pledges to continue as an Internet radio station.
“The financial issues are resolved for a year,” Mr. Orcutt said. “Not a lot of organizations have a chance to find out what people think of them. The response we’ve got from people who really love us is very humbling.”
The longtime Vineyard radio station announced January 25 that it had $600,000 in pledges.
“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 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.
MVY said it plans to continue its Internet streaming and be available to listeners via computers, Internet radio devices, smartphones, and tablets.
The station is trying to find its way back to the FM radio dial, but with bandwidth exceedingly scarce and expensive, Mr. Orcutt concedes that will be difficult.
“We’re still pursuing it,” he said. “It’s not like going to Walmart and getting something off the shelf.”
The WBUR acquisition 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.