WBUR entering Cape Cod market with purchase of WMVY

By Ben Mook

Boston NPR news station 90.9 WBUR-FM is wading into the Cape Cod resort market and going toe-to-toe with WGBH’s network of stations with its planned purchase of 92.7 WMVY-FM on Martha’s Vineyard.

WBUR is buying the Tisbury, Mass.-based station for an undisclosed amount from Housatonic, Mass.-based Aritaur Communications Inc. The sale is expected to close in early 2013 pending FCC approval.

Now broadcasting an adult alternative format, WMVY, known as mvyradio, will switch to WBUR’s news format, reaching up to 60,000 listeners with a 3,000-watt signal. The market includes Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and coastal towns including New Bedford, Fall River, Falmouth and Westport.

“We believe that the islands, Cape Cod and SouthCoast are important parts of the community we cover and serve,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz, in a statement. “WBUR has long wanted to meet demand from listeners in this region who have been unable to hear our signature programs and outstanding local news reporting.”

The purchase will put WMVY up against Boston-based WGBH’s network of stations on the Cape and Islands, which includes NPR stations 90.1 WCAI-FM in Woods Hole, Mass. on Martha’s Vineyard and 89.5 WNCK-FM on Nantucket.

Under the terms of the deal, WBUR is buying the frequency only. The programming, online content, equipment and 24 staff members will be transferred to Friends of mvyradio, a nonprofit formed to support the station.

The group is looking to raise $600,000 for a first year’s operating budget to create a noncommercial, online streaming station and hopes to find a new terrestrial signal in the future.

“We hope our devoted listeners, and the residents and businesses of Martha’s Vineyard, will respond and help us continue the ground-breaking digital streaming programming which has become mvyradio’s mainstay while we search for an affordable FM home,” said Joe Gallagher, president of Aritaur Communications, in a statement. “Our ambitious goal is for mvyradio to evolve into a fully listener-supported streaming music channel and broadcast our programming on a new FM commercial-free signal. It’s an ideal scenario which will require significant fund raising, but we’re committed to making it happen.”

The nonprofit has undertaken a 60-day pledge drive to raise the $600,000.

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