Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alternative Rock, who goes there? Only WFNX

On the surface, things have looked a little choppy lately at WFNX 101.7FM, with a lineup shake-up (BRW 1/4) and an evolving playlist that shuttles between alternative classics, the 90's grunge and today's new acts to go with a new operations boss(BRW 10/5/09) to oversee heritage alternative rocker. But in the big picture things actually look pretty bright in large part because, for the first time in a while, no big station(WBCN) is trying to stomp on its alternative-music format.

WFNX started playing new-wave music in March 1983 when the movement that produced bands like REM, the Pretenders and the Talking Heads really was an alternative to mainstream. As a station on the fringe of the city, WFNX learned to survive by staying ahead of city stations playing music too risky for big stations that need big audiences. In the 1990s, however, as the line between mainstream and alternative music broke down, with WBCN and later WBOS 92.9 borrowing from WFNX's playbook. Even contemporary signals like WBMX 104.1(then at 98.5) and WXKS 107.9 both at times crossed into the alternative Top 40 field. This forced WFNX to move away from its long-time music core, and drove away some listeners.

But now, with WBCN vanishing from the airwaves last August and next closest challenger WBOS 92.9 pretty much sticking to strictly well-tested alt-rock 90's artists, WFNX has its niche largely to itself again.

Technically, WFNX was born on March 15, 1983 as "Let's Go" by the Cure replaced the head-banging rock at the old WLYN-FM. The current call letters WFNX were adopted on April 1st, 1983 and the full "Boston Phoenix Radio" launch didn't actually happen until April 11, 1983 which is now known as the the official WFNX birthday.

To celebrate its 27th year on the air, WFNX today announced that its launching Top 101 Alternative Artists of all time promotion which will run from April 12th thru Friday, September 3. Read full details in station's press release below :

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WFNX Listeners to Select the Top 101 Alternative Artists of All-Time

Boston radio station WFNX is inviting its listeners to vote for their favorite alternative artists of all-time at
www.wfnx.com. The station has loaded over four hundred artists into its online “Artist Generator,” which pits two randomly selected artists in head-to-head battles. Listeners can click on their favorites and keep track of the results in real time.

“Our ultimate goal is to take every musical argument we ever have here at the station, let our listeners settle it online, and countdown the results on-air,” said Mike Tierney, vice-president of broadcast operations for WFNX. “The listeners used our Album Generator to decide the best albums of the ‘00s, voting over half a million times. This should get an even bigger response. The station has been here twenty-seven years, so our listeners have pretty much the entire history of Alternative music to choose from.”

On April 12th – a day after its twenty-seventh anniversary – WFNX will kick off a countdown of the results with artist number 101. The station will add another artist to the list every weekday, culminating Friday, September 3rd, with the revelation of the number one WFNX artist of all-time. Each day the station will highlight music by the Artist of the Day, along with interview footage, factoids, and a musical buying guide for each day’s artist.

WFNX can be heard on 101.7 FM in Greater Boston, 92.1 FM in New Hampshire , and streaming live over the station’s website.

The FNX Radio Network is part of a consortium of three alternative radio stations owned by the privately held Phoenix Media / Communications Group. WFNX-FM (101.7FNX)/ Boston , MA ; WFEX-FM (92.1FNX) / Manchester , NH and WPHX-FM (92.1FNX) / Portsmouth , NH form the network. FNX Radio also owns WPHX-AM (ESPN1220) in Sanford , ME an ESPN affilia ted sports station. Its parent company, The Phoenix Media/Communications Group also owns and operates the Boston Phoenix newspaper along with other New England newspapers, magazines and specialty publications such as the Portland Phoenix and Providence Phoenix newspapers and Stuff at Night magazine.

BRW Notebook :

The blog club : Bingo Bar Blog's latest entry "98.5 vs WEEI" reads like a doctoral theses of Boston sports radio but if "American Idol" is not your thing tonight, this is actually a pretty entertaining, but long, piece.

Another Brick out of the Wall : As mentioned here last fall(BRW 10/30/09), WEEI AM 850 brought back ESPN Radio programming to fill its dead non-local hours(overnights and weekend nights). And, Fox Radio moved over to the SportsHub 98.5 after a 4-year run on WEEI. As of this week, rest of WEEI's network stations in Providence, Worcester and Springfield are following suit and switching to ESPN Radio from Fox.


raccoonradio said...

You didn't mention their Cape station, WEII 96.3 so I guess they're staying with Fox. I got an HD/FM portable and 96.3 was coming in here in Beverly. It sounded like they had Fox/JT The Brick on it unless they are also to go to ESPN?

raccoonradio said...

...and it was pointed out to me that Ent. doesn't own that 96.3, so...