On the Air
Nantucket Gets Its Own FM station
97.7 ACK-FM went on the air Memorial Day weekend. The signal is broadcasting from a tower on Eel Point Road and the studio is on Old South Rd., making the station’s tag line “True Island Radio” accurate. It’s the first and only radio station to be based on the island whose goal is to only serve the island.
ACK-FM is the brainchild of Jeff Shapiro whose 27-year career in radio means he knows what he’s doing. His connections to the island mean he “gets” it here. Remember the kite store, Sky’s the Limit, in the Courtyard back in the 80’s? That was Shapiro’s first business venture—started with his two brothers while they were in college. Today, he owns radio stations all over the country. You may know his dad, ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Shapiro, who has looked deeply into my eyes at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. This week at the station, Dr Shapiro was looking deeply into door frames to install handles. It’s a family affair.
The station format is AAA or Adult Album Alternative which means a range of genres geared toward an adult listener like indie pop and alternative. The station’s playlist includes Elvis Costello and Grace Potter, Coldplay and David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and Gotye, and new releases join the lineup every day. There are plans for a local music show, Music from the 228, an acoustic show, and in-studio visits from bands.
97.7 is cultivating local on-air talent. I’ve been doing the morning show. Timy McDonald who owns and operates WAV, Inc. and Sandy Walsh, who does Thai Body Work and development for local nonprofits and small businesses are learning how to push buttons and talk at the same time along with me. Both have radio experience and great voices. We’re on a steep learning curve.
Radio is no longer broadcast using side-by-side turntables. Instead, the whole station runs from a central computer. We operate the board and follow a program day laid out for us on the screen. But there’s plenty of opportunity to mix it up. We drop songs into rotation when callers request them, record commercials, and (nerve-wrackingly) bring our mics up live to talk weather, sports and what’s going on around the island.
Station Developer Dave Collins (or DC), who is based in New Hampshire, has been in town teaching the new staff along with Operations Manager Justin Tyler who is “fine tuning the station (no pun intended), training staff, and hitting up Cap’n Tobey’s after work.” They are radio professionals who know their stuff cold. Islanders Lauren Sleeth and Alie Furnari are the station’s advertising sales team.
ACK-FM is just getting started, but Shapiro sees a bright future for the station. Jeff’s goal was to “born” a radio station that would be the “voice of the island” and become part of the daily lives of residents and visitors. Given the high level of enthusiasm already for the station, it is off to a great start. Coming in the fall: Whaler’s football will join the lineup. The station wants to hear from listeners. Give a call at (508) 228-9770 or email [email protected] with feedback, suggestions, and requests.
Have you tuned in? What do you think?
DC and Sandy in the studio
Justin Tyler in the Captain’s chair
The temporary sign outside the station