NEWPORT — It may be new to Newport, but WGUY radio (102.1 FM) is no new kid on the block.
The station’s signal dates back to the early 1950s and the current operation goes back more than five years and features some of the same music as those early years. As an oldies station, WGUY’s format includes music from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s.
Needing a new base of operations because of a deteriorating building and lack of parking in nearby Dexter, owners Dan and Jocelyn Priestly were eager to accept the offer of Rick Jacques of Newport Glass to construct a new studio on the second floor of his business on Elm Street in Newport. Federal Communications Commission rules allow stations to locate within a specified distance from the town for which they are licensed.
The move was completed in November while the station remained on the air at the Dexter location with one disc jockey and a minimum amount of equipment.
The bustle of the holiday season followed and then came this month’s ice storm, severely delaying any formal announcement of the station’s change of base.
Plans for an open house at the station are still on hold as other events take precedence. During the ice storm, generators kept the station on the air with disc jockeys answering calls from around the state, armed with flashlights and making frequent trips out for coffee.
As the “local station,” WGUY owners and staff want to make their presence known and support local events. The station will sponsor a barbecue and a dance for Newport’s annual Pine Tree Ride-in Feb. 6-8.
Proceeds from the Pine Tree barbecue Saturday and the dance at the community center Saturday night will be given directly to Pine Tree Camp, according to on-air personality Chris Brannigan, better known to Newport residents as Jay Carsley. That donation will be in addition to those brought in to the Sebasticook Valley Snowmobile Club by snowmobilers from throughout the state.
The radio station has support for their event from local snowmobile dealers, Carsley said.
Although the move to Newport was prompted by need, the positive business atmosphere was an added bonus, Priestly said. Many of the station’s advertisers were already in the Newport area. The 50,000-watt station’s signal reaches from Gardiner to Crystal in Aroostook County, they have discovered from call-ins.
“The fact that all the roads come together here [helps],” Priestly said of the new location. “It shortened my commute.”
“Everyone benefited from this move,” said Carsley, whose work commute also was shortened by the move. The Priestlys live in Bangor, as does one of their disc jockeys, and another lives in nearby Plymouth.
The WGUY staff is particularly proud to offer local on-air broadcasts in contrast to the trend at many stations of accepting satellite-transmitted programming.
“There are more and more buyouts from big corporations,” said Priestly. “We have respectfully denied [offers].”
The decision to broadcast locally was initiated about two years ago, he said. It is apparently one Priestly has not regretted, as it has kept the station on top and maintained a high standard, he said. While many of his competitors change formats from rock to country to oldies on a near-regular basis, Priestly has kept the same oldies format and believes the continuity also maintains his advertisers and listeners.
“I believe we are one of the more viable players in the Bangor market,” said Carsley. “And we’re finding holes in the market that fall within our format.”
The spring, summer and fall are what the WGUY crew calls “remote season.” It’s during that time whent they expect to participate and get better acquainted with their new base of operations through remote broadcasts tied to special events.
“We’ll try to be anywhere we can be,” said Priestly.