AKTINA FM, the multi-award winning Greek-American radio station which has been on the air on WNYE 91.5FM and online for 28 years, is entering a new broadcasting era by going exclusively online.
The non-profit, commercial-free radio station has recently departed from the FM dial to continue its mission as a 24/7 Internet Radio Station, an endeavor which AKTINA FM launched four years ago.
In an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter, Elena Maroulleti, the founder, executive producer and host at the station, explains why AKTINA FM departed from the FM dial and outlines her vision for the future of the station.
“We strongly believe that the future of AKTINA FM holds many more successes and opportunities as we can now freely provide many more enhanced services and technologies which were not available to us on WNYE,” she says.
The station, which even has a street in Astoria, Queens named after it, called AKTINA FM Way, has been illuminating the lives of tens of thousands of people around the nation and around the world with its vibrant presence on the internet.
Through its exclusive online presence, she states, “we will continue to service our listeners with the same love and devotion by providing them the exceptional radio experience AKTINA FM offers.”
Following is the interview with Elena Maroulleti:
What led to your decision to suspend AKTINA FM on WNYE?
Considering the consistent growth of our online audience during the course of these 28 years and especially during the last four years following the establishment of AKTINA FM as a 24/7 Internet radio station which now reaches over 2 million listeners around the world, we felt that now was the right time to move permanently to the Internet broadcasting platform and to suspend our live weekend programs on WNYE, which by the way continue online every Saturday 3:30 pm-8 pm and every Sunday 1:30 pm-6 pm.
Certainly, there were other factors which also contributed to our decision to depart from the FM dial. In their majority, they relate to our operational and broadcasting experience on WNYE over the last few years. The price we were paying for airtime was too high for the services provided by WNYE which we felt had declined drastically. The signal of WNYE in the NY Metro area which was supposed to be upgraded to HD years ago is deteriorating and has become very weak. Many of our listeners have been complaining that they keep losing the signal, others that there is a lot of static and many listeners in all five boroughs have been providing us with supportive information and evidence that WNYE’s signal is constantly being pirated.
Over the years we have submitted all of these complaints to the station’s management however, no steps were taken to remedy any of the problems, including the piracy. Furthermore, we found very unfair WNYE’s Contractual rules, regulations and restrictions imposed upon us, among them the stipulation in the Contract which gives the station the right at “its sole discretion” to change the scheduled time of AKTINA FM or pre-empt it at any given time in order allocate our airtime to “third parties,” for programming which again the station “in its sole discretion deems to be of greater importance” than that of AKTINA FM.
In the last few years, under heavy pressure, we have tolerated this unfair practice when WNYE was sub-leasing our airtime to Sports entities, but we were not inclined to tolerate it again this year with the renewal of our Contract. WNYE’s practice of sub-leasing our programs to Sports entities, along with the ongoing piracy of its signal, has caused us grave harm. We started losing listeners as well as their financial support.
With all of the above in mind, we started preparing for our departure but not before we were sure that our existing audience will be following us on our Internet platform. In this respect, we immediately invested in the expansion of our online presence turning AKTINA FM into a 24/7 online broadcasting station.
During the course of the past 4 years, we have been encouraging our listeners to start and get accustomed to listening to AKTINA FM online so that when the right time comes, we can accomplish a smooth and successful transition from WNYE to our permanent Internet platform.
By the beginning of January 2021 when we had announced the suspension of our weekend broadcasts on WNYE, our efforts were rewarded as the vast majority of our WNYE audience was already following us on our Internet platform.
I wish to stress that during this transition period, we’ve made it very easy for people to listen. In this respect, we invested and have our own servers where we stream AKTINA FM straight from our websites without the need of downloading any apps.
People simply visit our dedicated and secure websites, www.aktinafm.com or the low bandwidth www.ak.ht which is specially designed for listeners with limited cellular data and with a simple click on the Audio Player they enjoy 24/7 non-stop and commercial-free programming and entertainment.
We also have thousands of listeners who are accustomed to listen to AKTINA FM on TuneIn, on AMAZON Echo through the ALEXA app, on Google Play and on a myriad of other streaming platforms worldwide which carry AKTINA FM.
What is the future of Aktina FM on the internet?
We strongly believe that the future of AKTINA FM holds many more successes and opportunities as we can now freely provide many more enhanced services and technologies which were not available to us on WNYE.
Unlike on WNYE where the sound was very poor and static, AKTINA FM provides far more superior sound and a crystal clear listening experience.
Furthermore, our online broadcasts are not subjected to unfair rules, regulations and suppressive speech restrictions, they cannot be pirated, while in the unlikely event that our main servers and websites may experience a brief/temporary down-time due to updates or maintenance, we also have back up servers supporting the websites, www.aktinafm.net or www.aktina.info
We also have thousands of listeners who are accustomed to listening to AKTINA FM on TuneIn, on AMAZON Echo through the ALEXA app with the simple command, “Alexa, play Greek American Internet Radio, on Google Play with the same command, “Hey Google, play Greek American Radio” and on a myriad of other streaming platforms worldwide which carry AKTINA FM.
What distinguishes it from Greece-based radio stations which transmit digitally?
Since its inception, AKTINA FM has been broadcasting with the Greek motto, “Ραδιόφωνο με Εικόνα, Άποψη και Μουσική Ταυτότητα» which could be translated as, “Radio with Image, Point of View and Musical Identity.” And this is what AKTINA FM is all about and this is what distinguishes AKTINA FM from Greece-based radio stations.
Furthermore, AKTINA FM is bilingual and commercial-free. In this respect, it is no coincidence that for 28 long years it was the most highly rated radio on WNYE and currently among the most desired Internet Radio Stations people listen online.
Do you think that the younger generation which is much more familiar with the internet would give a new boost?
Let me start with the boost first. Our presence as an Internet Radio Broadcaster goes back 28 years! In this respect for the past 28 years we’ve been building up our audience online and for the last 4 years when AKTINA FM became a 24/7 Internet Station, our audience skyrocketed.
We have 2 million listeners and the audience continues to grow. I believe this is quite incredible and quite an accomplishment. In this respect, when we left WNYE we already had this established audience online, as I also mentioned at the beginning of our interview. In other words, we did not start from scratch online.
As far as the younger generation is concerned they have been our focus since the establishment of AKTINA FM back in 1993 and it’s because of them that we took the revolutionary decision to establish this radio in the English language and also with an innovative bilingual format.
Many had said at the time, especially members of the G/American media that this idea was “crazy,” that, “no one will listen” and that we will shut down in less than a month. Well, we have proven them all wrong! Not only did we remain on the air, but within a very short period of time we had also expanded our airtime from 1 hour per week to 9 hours every weekend becoming the highest rated Greek American Radio on WNYE.
In relation to your question, members of the new generation which by the way comprise an integral part of our audience, were already following us online and not on WNYE and they’ve become our “Ambassadors” through social media and other means in spreading the word that AKTINA FM is broadcasting exclusively online.
Acknowledging the fact that the younger generation has been following us online and not on WNYE, was another major factor that supported our decision to suspend our weekend programs on this station.
What are the main goals for the near future? Any events planned?
Our main goal is to continue to service our listeners with the same love and devotion by providing them the exceptional radio experience AKTINA FM offers. We are also in the process of enhancing our websites so that we can always be current with new technologies.
As far as our live events are concerned, due to the pandemic, everything has been put on hold until we are able to return to normalcy. We are exploring however the idea of hosting a live concert online but at this time we cannot make any announcement.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to have this discussion and I would like to invite Greek Reporter’s readers who may not be familiar with AKTINA FM to check us out by visiting, www.aktinafm.com or the low bandwidth, www.ak.ht because AKTINA FM, Is The Smart Choice for lovers of Greek music and culture.