Radio station WMVY, the popular Vineyard station that was in danger of going silent after an NPR station purchased its signal, will continue on after reaching its fundraising goal Friday evening, one day before the deadline.
“We made our goal,” director of programming Barbara Dacey told the Gazette from the Vineyard Haven radio station Friday evening. “We’re pretty excited.”
Ms. Dacey and Alison Hammond announced the achievement on the air at about 4:20 Friday afternoon, highlighting the 3,715 pledges received. Ms. Hammond started crying, and the station played some Barry Manilow: Looks Like We Made It.
“It was very, very happy and we’re very thankful to all the people that made it possible,” Ms. Dacey said.
A Facebook post announcing the achievement had 306 “likes” an hour and a half later.
Friday marked 59 days since the time Boston radio station WBUR purchased WMVY’s 92.7 signal and the station launched a fundraising effort to stay on-air: $600,000 in 60 days.
Pledges will fund station operation including salaries, programming and administrative costs for a year so the station can continue as an online presence, operated by the nonprofit organization Friends of mvy.
WMVY’s owner, Aritaur Communications, sold the signal for a reported $715,000, and has said it will transfer all other assets to the nonprofit organization.
The fundraising effort got off to a quick start and never really lost momentum, fueled by pleas from national and local musicians to save the station. Singer Carly Simon took out a full-page ad in the Gazette on the station’s behalf, and Bonnie Raitt recorded an interview about how much the station means to her and other musicians. The campaign attracted national press coverage in the New York Times.
The fundraising effort showed the station’s wide appeal: donations came in from 15 countries and, as of Thursday night, all 50 states. (North Dakota was the remaining holdout; Ryan from Fargo corrected that with a pledge.)
The station continues to search for a new FM signal so that it can continue on the airwaves in addition to online. And on Jan. 17, the Federal Communications Commission approved the transfer of the license to WBUR. While it isn’t yet clear when WBUR will start broadcasting on 92.7, it could be soon.
But with the pledge drive complete, the station has ensured survival in some form or another. And beyond the money, the pledge drive has confirmed that the station has a vital role in listeners’ lives, general manager Greg Orcutt told the Gazette.
“It’s been a very nice experience,” he said. “You don’t always get a chance to find out how much people appreciate you.”
A celebration is already in place on Saturday, when the station’s annual Big Chili Contest, a popular (and often sold-out) competition that is a fundraiser for the Red Stocking Fund, takes place.