By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
REGION – 2020 posed challenges for business owners. For Tom McAuliffe II, a Hudson native now residing in Marlborough, the year also proved to be rewarding. He owns and operates the Milford-based, multi-award winning MyFM Media with its MyFM 101.3 and WMRC-AM 1490 simulcast.
At a fall 2020 virtual ceremony, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association presented its annual Sound Bites Awards to radio and television stations. The coveted Station of the Year was awarded to MyFM, marking its 10th year to achieve the top honor.
McAuliffe noted, “We won Station of the Year during a pandemic when we turned crisis into kindness. That’s when a good local radio station can shine.”
Local radio’s community involvement
Growing up in Hudson, McAuliffe observed his father become a Marlborough community leader. Tom McAuliffe Sr. worked as vice president and general manager of the original Marlborough-based WSRO-AM from 1959 to 1989.
“My dad seemed to always emcee the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club events that I attended with my family,” he recalled. “I knew the power that the radio station had and my dad was in the middle of it all.”
McAuliffe also vividly remembers WSRO’s broadcasts of Thanksgiving football games, pitting longtime high school sports rivals Hudson “Hawks” against Marlborough “Panthers.”
“The week before, WSRO had the coaches and captains on, talking about the game,” he relayed.
After graduating from Hudson High School in 1986, he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Assumption University in 1990.
Family makes it happen together
Several months later, McAuliffe essentially began on-the-job-training in radio broadcasting while concurrently working in sales. He joined his father at the Milford-based WMRC-AM.
“My father had just bought WMRC, which was on the verge of bankruptcy,” McAuliffe explained. “He really framed what WMRC was going to be: If you live between Boston, Worcester and Providence – where we’re the only radio station – there’s one place to go for news and information, classic hits, high school athletics, and the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots.”
McAuliffe accepted general manager responsibilities in 1998 and bought WMRC in 2008. He gets support from his wife and business partner, Megan, and their three sons.
The WMRC-AM and MyFM simulcast launched in 2017.
“My dad’s motto was always ‘You have to make it happen.’” McAuliffe shared. “I learned how to do that from him.”
McAuliffe Sr. still resides in Hudson. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011.
‘Caring through COVID’
Another 2020 Sound Bites Award went to WMRC for excellence in digital media for its “Caring through COVID” initiative.
When the pandemic hit, MyFM Media’s station wagon equipped with speakers played upbeat music during its weekly drives through neighborhoods.
“People came out of their houses, gave us a thumbs up and danced in their front yards,” McAuliffe recounted. “We got hundreds of letters and emails from people asking us to go to their neighborhoods.”
Also during the stay-at-home advisory, MyFM Media organized a pen-pal program via emails between listeners and residents of assisted living facilities.
“It gave people who were lonely and couldn’t see their families something to look forward to,” McAuliffe noted. “Even if it was only a few sentences, they were able to respond to their pen pals. Everybody’s days were brightened.”
Earning multiple awards
McAuliffe doesn’t take the multiple Station of the Year awards for granted.
“We’re tweaking what we do all the time,” he said. “What made us great last year might not again this year. Not only do we broadcast, we hear our listeners and keep moving forward.”