Ever wonder what music shows sell out time after time during the Summer on Martha’s Vineyard? Reggae! Reggae is the most popular by far.
Knowing that, it seemed like a great idea to Island resident, Skip Finley, to help create a reggae radio station.
On October 10th, 2015, WYOB, the Soul of Martha’s Vineyard, signed on for the first time. WYOB is not just a radio station, it is also an educational platform. WYOB is located at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and the OB is for the fact that the station is located in Oak Bluffs.
WYOB is one of 12 reggae stations in America, and is one of only three that is on FM, along with a station in New York City and the island of St. John’s. It’s quite an honor to be one of the few and fabulous.
Skip has been in the radio industry for over 45 years. He is still involved and that makes paving the way for a new radio station a little easier. He applied for the license, got most of the equipment needed to make the station as donations, since WYOB is a non-profit, and has a lot of powerful people in the biz wanting to help WYOB succeed.
WYOB is a perfect project for Skip. He loves radio, loves giving back to the Island community, and is really enjoying sharing his wealth of knowledge with the high school kids.
In this room(214), kids are learning everything they need to work at an actual radio station. Skip, along with MVY radio personality, Bill Narkiewicz, are providing kids will real training.
Kids are learning basic format of a radio station that is 24/7, 365 days a year. The kids do the programming, create the mixes that are played, and more. Those involved will be well rounded, since each person involved has to learn all the different positions, so as to hone in on their strengths.
In order to be a part of WYOB, kids had to be interviewed, since it is being run as professional radio station. Currently, WYOB is considered a club, but Skip is working to have it become a CTE, career technical education course in the near future.
Learning programming, the software, even selling sponsorships, will really give kids a hands-on education in the radio field. The kids involved currently are really into it. There’s a lot to learn, it’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun too. The current “program director” is an 11th grader!
In the mean time, selling sponsorships will help pay for things the station needs. Think WMVY radio, which is also based on sponsors rather than commercials. There are a lot of start-up costs still needing to be funded.
A big change that Skip and the team hope to accomplish is to have the antenna moved from the high school (39 feet off the ground) to the Oak Bluffs water tower ( 125 off the ground), so there is a much better signal. So, be on the lookout for fundraisers around the Island to help support the move.
Part of having a radio station that is all reggae is finding music that is familiar to the listeners. How the kids do this is by playing the reggae version of Top 40 hits. How you may ask? Well, the club members research music on line, and find what to play.
Another way to connect with people is WYOB’s Double Shot. Once an hour, you’ll here a ding ding that signals a Double Shot (fun fact – the ding ding is when the golden rings enter the mix at the Flying Horses). A Double Shot consists of a reggae song and then the original artist right after it.
When I was with Skip at WYOB it was a Blondie song. It was great to hear a song I knew performed by a reggae artist, sing along and then sing along with the original version.
What’s great about reggae is that has a relaxing beat. Listening to it seems to calm the soul a little bit. I was never a big reggae fan until my trip to Jamaica. Here I was immersed in it, along with a more laid back culture, and found both to be so therapeutic to my otherwise intense, over-scheduled lifestyle. Knowing that you can tune in anytime to 105.5 is another bonus about the little Island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Once again, I am amazed at the generosity and talent found on such a small island. Be sure to set a station on your car radio to 105.5 today! It will be fun to watch or should I say listen to 105.5 evolve over the next few years – including a lot more live, on-air time, better signal strength and more!
Worried about the Summer months since school is not in session, don’t worry! There will be Summer internships so the Soul of Martha’s Vineyard can keep you dancing all year long.
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