Since WVVY started broadcasting from 93.7 FM in 2007, it’s been a place for deejays and listeners alike to kick back. The community radio station shows are labors of love; deejays help support the station out of their own pockets, with the occasional summer or fall festival helping to bolster the bottom line. Local businesses help out when possible, with Decca Construction providing the broadcasting space itself. But signal fuzziness has been a constant frustration, and this past winter its technical glitches reached a peak.
“It’s been spotty—on and off the air for the past six months or so,” said station manager Molly Coogan. Ms. Coogan has been a WVVY host for the past year, and took on the job of manager just last month. “We were often off the air entirely.”
Now with a particularly challenging winter in the rear view mirror, WVVY is looking ahead to refocus the station’s community-minded mission.
“We’re back on the air, live,” Ms. Coogan said in an interview Wednesday morning,
Newly installed transmitters have boosted the signal considerably, so much that on clear days listeners in Falmouth can tune in. Then again, anyone can tune in online — WVVY program director Steve (Stavros) Saxonis gets listeners from Mexico and Greece.
The station’s FCC license has been renewed for the next five years. “We’re not going to go anywhere,” Mr. Saxonis said.
And the station is working to establish a new outreach program intended to help the large population of Island tradespeople by lining up substitutes for work when someone is sick.
The program is the brainchild of radio host Will Monast, but it stemmed from a general sense at the station that WVVY needed to be not just of the Vineyard but for the Vineyard.
When one of the station deejays began undergoing cancer treatment, putting his ongoing construction projects at risk as he struggled to balance work and medical obligations, Mr. Monast realized there was a pressing need for a safety net.
“There are tons of tradespeople around here, and they’re getting older and we’re finding out that more and more people are getting sick,” Mr. Monast said. To that end he has proposed a volunteer exchange, in which other tradespeople can make themselves available for those who may be sick or undergoing chemotherapy. That way, projects could still be completed on time without jeopardizing a financial situation. The list of volunteers will be kept up to date by WVVY; many who work at the station are tradespeople themselves and were “all on board,” Mr. Monast said.
“It’s difficult to go to competitors for help; there needs to be a place to go where that is welcomed,” he said.
Ms. Coogan agreed. “We call ourselves community radio, and it really was important to make that so, and make that a resource,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”
Still, finances at the station remain tight after the winter slump and WVVY now needs to boost its listener base and bolster the deejay lineup. Mr. Saxonis said he has gone out to find sponsors ever since he began hosting; he promotes them himself during his Sunday radio show, since there are no commercial breaks. He said every bit helps.
“Edgartown Paint Shop, Trader Fred’s, Margot Datz, Paul Brewer [landscaping],” he said, listing a few of the sponsors.“They’re all my friends; we’re all helping each other.” Mr. Saxonis also promotes organizations such as the Red Stocking Fund.
“It is a community radio station,” he said. “But at the same time we have to be supported by the community.”
To learn more about the tradespeople help exchange or to become involved, contact Will Monast at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-542-5266. Anyone interested in hosting a show, sponsoring a show or making a donation to WVVY, please email Molly Coogan at email@example.com.