The Vineyard is set to get a new radio station and the town of Tisbury to get an integrated information system following a couple of last-minute approvals this week.
On Tuesday, selectmen Tristan Israel and Denys Wortman (Thomas Pachico was absent) approved an easement at the department of public works site for a 70-foot pole which will be used by the station for its broadcasts and by public works to communicate with other town departments and the Tisbury school.
On Wednesday night, the proposal cleared the planning board and the new community station, WVVY, broadcasting on 93.7 FM, hopes to be on air within the next couple of weeks.
“We’ll start out with a test and then make a big splash when everything’s functioning properly,” said Maria Danielson, station manager and chairman of WVVY.
“We’re a community station, staffed by volunteers, a nonprofit educational station, similar to a college station but with members of the community on it here,” she said, adding:
“We’ll be playing music and talking about local events. We aim to play as diverse a range of music as possible, to really offer an alternative to what you can hear on other stations. We want to keep it as diverse and eclectic as possible – to reflect the Island community.”
It was a close-run thing. The licence granted by the Federal Communications Commission was conditional on the station being on air by early next week. Ms. Danielson said they would not make that deadline, but believed the FCC would grant a short extension, given they were so close to being ready.
“The pole is on its way,” she said.
The project was rescued by GPCS Massachusetts, which is working toward installing an Islandwide fiber optic communications network. The chief operating officer of the carrier, Andrew Nanaa, suggested the pole as a quick fix way of getting the station on air, and the town departments connected.
“The town wanted to connect all its properties and the school on a single network, and the fiber optic network accomplished all that,” he said, adding:
“But the construction schedule was about six to eight months. I just suggested to the town that we put this up in the meantime, and WVVY and the town can benefit from a mutual arrangement and get on air.”
Neither the radio station nor the town will have to pay anything for the temporary link.
Once all the cable is laid, however, the town will no longer need the pole. The question then is whether it stays or whether WVVY has to go to an alternative broadcasting site.
But that, Ms. Danielson said, is less a problem than simply getting up and running within the FCC deadline.
“Once we’re on the air, and if we need to get off that pole, we can apply to the FCC for a new location,” she said.
“Ultimately the best bet would be to be up on top of the water tower, which is higher. Establishing a relationship with the DPW might help with that.”
In other business Tuesday, selectmen approved an application to operate “green tours” in bio-diesel powered buses out of Vineyard Haven to Aquinnah.
The new venture, which would involve two trips daily by two buses, is due to begin next May.