On a cold, gray November morning the warm sounds of Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt and John Hiatt pour out the of radio at 92.7 on the FM dial, punctuated by a report on the Steamship Authority (calm seas, boats are on time) and the morning movie quote. Periodically the sound of jingle bells comes on and the deejay stops to announce another winner whose name will be added to the raffle of a giant stocking filled with merchandise and gift certificates, set to take place just before Christmas. In friendly tones, the deejay explains to listeners that she is filling in for the regular morning deejay, who lost her voice the day before.
And no wonder. There was big news at the Vineyard’s little radio station this week when it was announced that WBUR, the National Public Radio station in Boston, will buy the signal from radio station WMVY, the Vineyard’s local independent station for nearly thirty years. Pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected sometime in January, the morning movie quote, Steamship Authority reports and a colorfully-knit music program that somehow takes you back to the seventies and forward to the new millennium without dropping a stitch — will no longer be heard on the air from 92.7 FM.
Instead listeners will be hearing the voice of Bob Oakes, the morning broadcaster at WBUR, a venerable public radio station whose programming is not music but news and talk shows from NPR, British Broadcasting Corporation and others.
We have high regard for WBUR and welcome them to the mix of broadcast media on the Vineyard, which includes another public radio gem, WCAI. WBUR’s decision to buy the signal from WMVY was a strategic business move intended to expand the station’s presence in the Cape and Islands and south shore region. And that’s a plus for listeners in this area who have an affinity for thoughtful, in-depth broadcast journalism.
WMVY filled a different void: for music, for local sports broadcasts, for the comfort of voices that have become as recognizable as relatives. We will miss the familiar sounds of WMVY from that familiar place on the dial. It feels like losing an old friend, and the many reader comments posted on the Gazette website and published in part on the Commentary Page in today’s edition are a heartfelt testament to that fact.
But if vision can become reality, WMVY is not going away, it is just changing. The station’s owner Joe Gallagher is shifting all the assets of the company, including its rich music archives, to the station’s nonprofit arm, mvyradio. The idea is to keep MVY as a commercial-free enterprise broadcast over the internet, and possibly find another FM signal so the station can broadcast on the air again as well.
This new vision for WMVY won’t come cheaply; six hundred thousand dollars must be raised by the end of January in order to make it happen. But the leaders at the station, including voices we have known for years, Barbara Dacey, P.J. Finn and Laurel Reddington, are hard at work using every available bit of air time to explain the cause and direct listeners to the station’s website, where the plan is outlined in detail.
In the short term there is a surge of hope that this can really happen; in a single day following the news that the station’s signal would be sold, about fifty thousand dollars had been raised from an outpouring of small donations.
We hope for the best for our friends at MVY radio. If enthusiasm and positive energy were dollars, they would have a million in the bank by now.