On this show I talk a lot about community as a big component of spirituality. I was raised to believe it and have it for myself as truth. Well the Boston community suffered a big blow recently–and I don’t mean the Celtics. After 29 years as a Boston rock radio staple, WFNX will stop broadcasting as an alternative rock station. Late last month, the independent radio station in Lynn was bought out by Clear Channel, the radio media Goliath that owns too many radio stations across the country. There have been rumors that the new format will be either country music or Latin talk shows, but it will no longer be an alt-rock station.
This is a huge blow to the Boston Rock community. FNX was an independent radio station, something very hard and rare in a major media market. They had their playlists, but they still did their own thing. By putting groups like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Foster the People on the air first or booking Nirvana for a show just before “Nevermind” broke out, they put themselves just ahead of the curve. They honed an eclectic mix of music on tap and bridged the gap between college radio and mainstream radio formats, and they did it independently. Yes you sold airspace for commercials and followed FCC rules, but they weren’t beholden to corporate interests in what they did or who they played. Until now.
Admittedly, I was a WBCN fan when I first moved to Boston. I was hard rock grunge rather than emo college alt. BCN started to rip off FNX a bit (most notably the Leftover Lunch with Julie Kramer), but I still liked them. When BCN went more talk in the rotation, I split my listening between FN, BCN and WZLX (I’ve ALWAYS been a Beatles and Hendrix guy). When BCN changed their formats and said good-bye, all I really had to listen to was FNX which was fine (until they played the Smiths and then I was scrambling back for classic rock).
When BCN left the airwaves it was a much different feel. CBS Broadcasting owned both BCN and ZLX, the DJs would change and shift around a bit and Oedipus would sill be heard on Christmas eve. So it wasn’t a loss just a change. Having FNX go dark is like finding out the DeliHaus was closed: it hurt. Delihaus was a part of the fabric of what I came to know as the Boston experience; for many FNX was the same. Clear Channel is a soulless corporate radio that is out to become an empire of whatever THEY want people to hear. You want to make the world in your own image, buy up as many media channels as you can so non one can escape your image/experience. We need good independent stations to stand against the impending corporate doom, and one more of them has bitten the dust.
One hopes WFNX will live on as an internet radio station of some sort. BCN does it and there’s room for more (like OBR.FM). One really hopes that more independent stations can rise and/or sustain the times to fill the void, btu that may be a ways off. For now, if you remember the DeliHaus, or the Rat, or ever ate at Buzzy’s Roast Beef at 3am, raise a glass, click on the youtube link below (I first heard Frank Turner on FNX and he got me through some dark days this winter) and toast our fallen radio brethren. WFNX will be missed.