By Tom Shevlin
NEWPORT – Music fans have reason to celebrate this week, as the Martha's Vineyard-based MVY Radio announced on Monday the successful completion of a $600,000 fund-raising campaign that will give the station a new life as an Internet pure play.
The announcement comes just 59 days after the station announced that its primary 92.7 FM signal had been sold to Boston-based NPR affiliate WBUR. The station, which also broadcasts over the air to Newport on 96.5 FM, had used its reach to secure pledges of over $600,000 from more than 3,000 listeners in all 50 states, and more than two dozen countries.
Current plans call for the station to continue streaming its iconic, independent programming as a fully non-profit, commercial-free operation under the banner of Friends of mvyradio online, while a new permanent home is found somewhere on the FM dial.
Long considered a pioneer in Internet radio, MVY's online stream has consistently ranked among the Internet's most popular stations since it launched in 1998. Today, the online stream operates under the banner of the non-profit Friends of MVY, and boasts more than 30,000 listeners.
Through regular fund drives and special events, Friends of MVY has allowed the station to offer original programming dedicated to bands like the Grateful Dead and Beatles, as well as live streaming from the Newport Folk Festival, Fall River's Narrow Center for the Arts, and Charlestown's Rhythm and Roots Festival.
Even though it broadcasts from Martha's Vineyard with a distinctly local feel, the station has nonetheless been adopted by listeners on Aquidneck Island as a sort of hometown voice.
As for Newport's 96.5 station, Program Director P.J. Finn says that he's hopeful the stream will continue to live on over-the-air for Aquidneck Island, however at this point no plans have been formalized.
"We're very hopeful that we'll be able to stay [on 96.5]," he said.
And while the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month approved the sale of the station's signal from Aritaur Communications to WBUR, according to Finn, he has yet to receive a firm deadline for when the station will switch over.
"I would loosely anticipate it being within the next two weeks," Finn said.
Once that day comes, listeners will be able to tune into the station with minimal changes either online, over iTunes, or via the MVYRadio app on their smartphones.
According to the station's management, all current staff will remain in place, as will MVY’s popular programming and friendly island-centric style.
"This outcome has always seemed to be the best fit for mvyradio," said Joe Gallagher, President of Aritaur Communications. "To preserve this broadcasting treasure in a format that better suits its programming and wide listener support. I'm delighted with this result."
Listeners who might also be delighted, are welcome to make a donation to the station at any time online at www.mvyradio.com.