As a strong fund-raising push continues to keep the popular Vineyard radio station WMVY on the air, the Federal Communications Commission Thursday approved the transfer of the station’s 92.7 FM radio signal to Boston radio station WBUR.
The MVY radio fund-raising effort is now at 80 per cent of its $600,000 goal, and has drawn support from 48 states and 14 countries. And while it is unclear when the signal transfer will take place, it could be soon.
“We just got the news today that the FCC has approved the transfer of the license,” WBUR general manager Charles Kravetz told the Gazette Thursday.
But Mr. Kravetz said the station still has no time frame as to when WBUR will take over the signal. “It could happen relatively soon, it could be a bit,” the general manager said. He said the station would talk with Aritaur Communications, which owns the signal, to determine a timeline and close the deal. He said the station will give notice before 92.7 starts airing WBUR.
Mr. Kravetz said the was transfer was approved more quickly than he expected. “We’re very pleased,” he said. “We’re also pleased that MVY seems to be doing very well with its fundraiser.”
“We’re rooting for them,” he added.
“We are aware that the FCC has ruled,” WMVY station manager Barbara Dacey told the Gazette Thursday afternoon. “The information is so new we don’t know what it will mean for our timing.”
Ms. Dacey said the station will continue on with its Save MVY campaign, which was launched when WBUR purchased the signal in late November for $715,000. The station vowed to continue through online streaming and, potentially, a new FM signal. It launched a pledge campaign to raise $600,000 by early 2013.
As of Thursday afternoon, the radio station had raised more than $480,000 in pledges, and station leaders remained confident that they would reach the goal.
“We were confident at the start,” Ms. Dacey said. “Now we’re confident based on the experience of the amount of people [pledging] and the amount of pledges that have come in.”
The station with the blue lobster symbol, known for its eclectic music selections, popular radio personalities and Island news (including weather and Steamship Authority reports), is a mainstay on Island radios. But the station’s reach clearly extends beyond Vineyard shores, and the pledges told part of the story.
The station had received 3,080 total pledges as of Thursday afternoon, with 2,761 coming online. Of the online pledges, 1,265 come from Massachusetts, and 141 come from the Vineyard.
The average donation amount is $140.
Most of the support clearly comes from off-Island, those who listen to the station online and during trips to the Island. Donations have come in from 14 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Israel and Oman. People have donated from 48 out of 50 states.
The station received $85,000 on Jan. 9 alone when an anonymous donor agreed to match pledges up to $5,000. A second matching day on Jan. 16 brought in $60,000.
Throughout the day Wednesday, the station aired messages of support from musicians including Bonnie Raitt, Patty Larkin, John Hiatt and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Ms. Dacey interviewed Ms. Raitt as well.
“MVY is one of the last independent radio stations in the country, and it’s one I’ve loved and listened to for years,” Ms. Raitt said in a recorded message. “I hope you will continue to help keep it on the air. It would be a shame to lose this voice and advocate for independent music. I don’t think I’d have a career if it weren’t for stations like this.”
Some of the online pledges come with sentiments from readers. “It’s been very moving, beyond moving,” Ms. Dacey said, to hear what the stations means to listeners.
A common refrain, she said, has been “I can’t imagine life without MVY.”
“That could be from someone from the Vineyard or easily someone from California,” Ms. Dacey said.
The effort to keep MVY afloat has also attracted media attention in the Boston Globe and New York Times.
But at the MVY station in Vineyard Haven, the mood is positive, Ms. Dacey said. “We really have been able to keep the momentum going.”
As of now, the station is focusing on raising the $600,000 through pledges, which will pay for one year of the station’s business expenses. Staffing is expected to remain the same; Aritaur has agreed to transfer MVY’s assets to the nonprofit Friends of mvyradio.
Efforts to get an FM signal continue as well, and plans for a board and a future business plan will come after the pledge drive, Ms. Dacey said.
The national nonprofit Public Radio Capital is administering Friends of mvyradio, the nonprofit behind MVY.
But at the end of the month, MVY’s fundraising efforts will turn elsewhere. On Saturday, Jan. 26, the station will host the 27th annual Big Chili Festival, a fundraiser for the Red Stocking Fund.
“We expect a big crowd, and hope its still just as successful,” Ms. Dacey said.