WFNX

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For the current WFNX in Athol, Massachusetts, see WFNX (FM).
WFNX
City of license Lynn, Massachusetts
Broadcast area Greater Boston
Branding WFNX.com
Slogan The Evolution of Radio
First air date April 11, 1983 (as terrestrial station)
October 31, 2012 (as internet-only station)
Format Alternative rock
Callsign meaning Phoenix, as in Boston Phoenix
Owner Phoenix Media/Communications Group

WFNX was an alternative rock radio station in Boston, Massachusetts, that operated as a commercial broadcast radio station from 1983 until July 24, 2012, and as an internet-only stream from October 30, 2012 to March 19, 2013. WFNX was owned by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group and was promoted as the broadcast cousin of the Boston Phoenix, the Boston area's former alternative media newspaper. The station ceased broadcast following the shutting down of the Boston Phoenix the previous week.

WFNX broadcast on 101.7 MHz from atop One Financial Center in downtown Boston, and simulcast on WFEX in Peterborough, New Hampshire at 92.1 MHz. Phoenix Media sold the rights to the 101.7 frequency to Clear Channel Communications, which turned it into an "Adult Hits" format under the call letters WHBA; the frequency is now occupied by country music station WBWL. Phoenix Media also sold the 92.1 frequency in Peterborough to Blount Communications Group, which uses it to simulcast WDER, a Christian music radio station.[1] The WFNX call letters are now used by a radio station in Athol.[2]

History[edit]

101.7 FM began as the FM outfit of WLYN in November 1947. WLYN-FM for years simulcast WLYN during the day and had its own programming after the AM signed off at sunset.[3]

By the late 1970s, WLYN-FM had begun broadcasting ethnic programming in the midday hours, with drive times still simulcast with the AM. In 1981, WLYN-FM began broadcasting a nighttime block of new wave music, which eventually became a 24/7 alternative music format in 1982, known as Y102. The midday ethnic programs were moved to the AM where they continue to air to the present day.

In the spring of 1983, WLYN-FM was sold to the Phoenix Media/Communications Group. On April 11, 1983, WFNX's first Program/ Operations Director and morning drive DJ, Judith Brackley, signed the new station on the air. WLYN-FM became WFNX, and Brackley and her air staff gradually changed the format from the classic rock of the previous owners to an eclectic alternative/progressive format that included new wave, "deep cuts", British punk, and a sprinkling of jazz and reggae. The first song on WFNX was "Let's Go to Bed" by The Cure. It was one of the first American commercial stations to play alternative rock as a full-time format.

At 7 pm on August 29, 1991, WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas gave Nirvana's album Nevermind its world premiere by playing the album from start to finish.[4] Nirvana's 1993 Nevermind It's an Interview limited-edition promotional release on Geffen Records was produced and engineered at the station by Kurt St. Thomas and Troy Smith. The original interview sessions were recorded by St. Thomas the night of Nirvana's first appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1992.

The station sponsored a free Green Day concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston on September 9, 1994. An estimated 70,000 to 100,000 showed up, which WFNX, the Metropolitan District Commission and the Massachusetts State Police were not prepared for. The concert ended 20 minutes into Green Day's set when the crowd became uncontrollable, leaving 100 people injured, 24 of whom were sent to local hospitals, and 31 were arrested.[5][6]

WFNX has a long history of breaking new bands,[4] and being the first in the country to play artists such as Nirvana, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Florence and the Machine, Foster the People, Mumford and Sons, and many more.[citation needed]

Beginning in 1998, it had a translator, W267AI on 101.3, to broadcast to the downtown Boston area on account of WFNX's weak signal there prior to the 2006 upgrade. Following the transmitter move and signal upgrade, W267AI was taken off the air.

Simulcasting on another 92.1 MHz station, WPHX-FM in Sanford, Maine, ended in August 2011.

Sale of 101.7 and end of terrestrial broadcast[edit]

On May 16, 2012, it was announced that WFNX would be sold to Clear Channel Communications. The format ended on Friday, July 20 at 7 pm (with the last song being The Cure's "Let's Go to Bed", which was also the first song the station ever played). Automated alternative rock aired until the new format launched.[7] The sale price was $14.5 million.[8]

While there had been some speculation that the station would adopt a Spanish-language format, possibly simulcasting WKOX, when the new ownership took over on July 24, 2012, 101.7 became "The Harbor". It was an "Adult Hits" format featuring popular songs from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, under the call letters WHBA.[9] After just five months, WHBA changed formats to electronic dance music and its call letters to WEDX. It currently airs a country format as "101.7 The Bull," under the call sign WBWL.

The studios and offices of WFNX were located on the second floor of 25 Exchange Street in Lynn, with the station's studio/transmitter link antenna mast on the roof.

Online station (2012–2013)[edit]

The sale of the station to Clear Channel didn't include WFNX's intellectual property,[10] and the Phoenix continued to stream automated music on WFNX.com. The company had plans to eventually launch WFNX.com as a full-service internet radio station.[10] On August 17, 2012, WFNX hired former programming director Kurt St. Thomas as executive producer for the internet station.[11]

WFNX.com officially relaunched as an internet station at 12:00am on October 31, 2012.[12] The first song played on the revived station was "Comeback Kid" by Sleigh Bells.[13]

Shortly before the sale of the station, The Boston Globe announced plans for an online alternative rock station for its Boston.com website, and later hired former WFNX DJs Adam 12, Julie Kramer, Paul Driscoll, and Henry Santoro.[14] The station, RadioBDC, launched on August 13, 2012.[15]

On March 14, 2013, it was announced that WFNX.com would not continue in its current form after the announcement that the Boston Phoenix would be shutting down.[16]

At midnight on March 19, 2013, WFNX.com shut down. The final song played on the station was "Old Friend" by Sea Wolf.[17]

Former simulcast frequencies[edit]

WFEX[edit]

In December 1999, 92.1 WFEX of Peterborough, New Hampshire began simulcasting 101.7 WFNX. Previously WFEX was WNHQ, simulcasting 105.5 WJYY of Concord, New Hampshire.

WFEX was sold to Blount Communications Group, which uses it to simulcast a Christian religious station out of Derry, New Hampshire as WDER-FM.[18]

WPHX[edit]

Main article: WXEX-FM

On July 21, 1999[19] 92.1 WPHX-FM of Sanford, Maine, began simulcasting of 101.7 WFNX. Previous to the simulcast, WPHX-FM was WCDQ, playing classic rock as Mount Rialto Radio. The WFNX simulcast on WPHX-FM ended in August 2011, when WPHX-FM switched to a simulcast of WXEX 1540 AM, Exeter, New Hampshire, under the WXEX-FM calls. The station had a Sanford sister station on 1220 AM, also using the WPHX callsign. It was on the air until August 2010, when the transmitter failed, and remained off till June 2011. Prior to that, the station served as ESPN Radio affiliate. Following WPHX-FM's sale, WPHX-AM took on simulcasting WFNX until Port Broadcasting bought the AM station in 2012 and changed its call sign to WWSF.

WWRX[edit]

Main article: WVEI-FM

During 2000–03 and again briefly in 2004, WFNX was simulcast on 103.7 in Westerly, RI, a facility that, as WVEI-FM, now simulcasts another Boston radio station, WEEI. For a short time in 2003, WWRX broadcast its own local programming of alternative rock, with local DJs, though retaining the "FNX" branding.[20] Phoenix Media/Communications Group sold the station to Entercom in March 2004 and reverted to simulcasting WFNX until the transition took effect in April.

Signal upgrade and ratings growth[edit]

On March 30, 2006, WFNX vastly increased its power after receiving permission from the FCC to begin broadcasting from a new transmitter and a new antenna located atop One Financial Center in downtown Boston. To promote its signal upgrade in downtown Boston, WFNX sold all of its commercial ad time to beverage maker Snapple from Memorial Day, May 29 through Independence Day, July 4, 2006, (both are national holidays in the United States). The unique deal allowed the station to eliminate traditional commercial breaks for that time.

The combination of WFNX's signal upgrade and the departure of Howard Stern from WBCN resulted in a significant ratings change in the core rock 18–34 demographic in Boston starting in 2006. Arbitron Ratings four ratings books in 2007 (Fall 2006, Winter 2007, Spring 2007, Summer 2007) showed that WFNX's weekday 18–34 audience share had increased by 43% over 2005, while WBCN's 18–34 share decreased by 39% from 2005. Ratings hit their high point in the Fall of 2008 thanks to the success of morning show "The Sandbox". WFNX was never able to get over the 12+ hump of 1.0 following that mark.

Programming[edit]

Immediately prior to the pending sale to Clear Channel, the station's programming included:

  • WFNX Breakfast Show with D-Tension and Henry Santoro, weekdays 6–10 am
  • Julie Kramer, Weekdays 10 am–2 pm (includes "Leftover Lunch," which featured tracks from the 1980s and 90s, starting at noon)
  • Adam 12, weekdays 2–7 pm
  • Jim Ryan, weeknights 7–11 pm
Specialty Programming
  • The Nightly News with Paul Driscoll, featured local, national, and international artists on the brink of stardom, weekday nights from 11 pm–1 am.
  • Boston Accents, hosted by Michael Marotta, featured the best local bands from New England, every Sunday night 8–10pm
  • London Calling, hosted by XFM personality Ian Camfield and produced by Redefined Media, Sunday nights 10 pm–midnight. Added to lineup in September 2010.
  • The weekend air staff included Christine, D-Tension, Jason Layne, and Kaya.

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

  • Dustin "Fletcher" Matthews - FNX APD/Morning Show Host "Sandbox". Current PD of WRXL Richmond VA.
  • Special "Ed" - FNX Morning Show Host "Sandbox". Current Production Director of WEZN / WPLR / WFOX / WYBC Southern CT.
  • "Big" Jim Murray - FNX Morning Show Sports "Jaxon and Pharmacist", Afternoons, Production Director. Current Night Host "92.9 The Game". Atlanta GE
  • Jaxon - FNX Morning Show Host "Jaxon and the Pharmacist". Afternoons. WMMR. Philadelphia PA
  • Kevin Mays - FNX Music Director - Current Music Director. The Buzz. Burlington VT
  • Cruze - FNX Program Director - Current Host/PD of "Radio Free Cruze"
  • Keith Dakin - FNX Program Director / Morning Show Host / Afternoon Drive Host - Current Operations Manager WEZN / WPLR / WFOX Southern CT
  • Kat Corbett - FNX Weekends - Current Midday Host KROQ Los Angeles CA
  • Kurt St. Thomas - FNX music and program director during the ratings heyday of the early 1990s. Current wfnx.com PD
  • Neal Robert - On-air DJ during the station's heyday in the late 80s and early 90s
  • Morning Guy Tai - Morning Show Host during the station's heyday in the late 80s and early 90s

References[edit]

  • 1992 Broadcasting & Cable Marketplace, page A-165

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′07″N 71°03′22″W / 42.352°N 71.056°W / 42.352; -71.056