Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As terrestrial WFNX fades away, over-the-air and on-line choices will test its fans' loyalties

As everyone keeps trying to guess what format the new owners will install on WFNX 101.7, fans of the alternative rock music played there for over 29 years are trying to figure where to go next.

One thing is known - radio giant Clear Channel, which is buying the station from Phoenix Media Communications Group for $14.5 million, will not retain the format, call letters and, of course, DJs.

Federal Communications Commission still needs to issue its approval of the sale before the deal actually closes, but many expect the new format to launch on Monday, July 23rd. Clear Channel has made no official announcement on a new format, but today's menu of options points to a conservative-leaning talk format currently heard on AM 1200, Spanish Top40 tunes airing on a weak AM 1430 or something completely different(but don't bet on that one). Whatever the new format it has in the works, Clear Channel better be ready to spend a lot of money to reach its new target audience. 

With Clear Channel's plans for 101.7FM aside, where will WFNX's 250,000 or so weekly listeners go?

Those who go the Net route, in fact, can keep WFNX. On Monday(6/25), the station's outgoing owner, Phoenix Media, has officially announced plans to continue its legendary alternative rock format at WFNX.com on 24/7/365 basis. 
In addition, The Boston Globe made a media splash of its own on Monday by announcing an upcoming launch of an alternative on-line station voiced by former WFNX staffers which will be hosted on Boston.com. 

While Boston.com and WFNX.com will duke it out exclusively on-line, WFNX fans will likely to spread out to other stations(and their on-line streams) in the area - jockless WBOS/MyRadio 92.9(www.wbos.com) plays a mix of contemporary rock from the 80's, 90's and today and will likely be the main beneficiary(at least, in the car) of 101.7's demise, but there are other over-the-air options. To the north of the city, there's adult album alternative WXRV/River 92.5(www.wxrv.com) In the city, there's Emerson College's WERS 88.9(www.wers.org) which sprinkles a lot of interesting new music, including rock, into its "Daytime" block which runs weekdays until 7pm. To the south of Boston(and you may need a good FM antenna to pick this one up), there's Brown University's alternative rocker WBRU 95.5(www.wbru.com).

Sirius XM satellite offers a lot more variety, and, of course, rock is all over the Internet. 

BRW Notebook :

Saying goodbye : With WFNX announcing its plan to relaunch on-line, it has also announced special programming to celebrate its last 29 years on the air. The month-long celebration will culminated on Saturday,July 21 with all-day "SendOff Party". Here's the list of special programs, features and special
that get underway this week :

* Listener / Band Takeovers, Monday 6/25 – Friday 6/29 @ 9am, 1pm and 7pm
Listeners and Bands will take over the airwaves and play their favorite WFNX songs
*   "Z to A Countdown", Monday 7/2 – Wednesday 7/4 WFNX.com will revisit history and artists that were integral over the years  

*  "WFNX Rewind", Thursday 7/5 –  Friday 7/20 WFNX on-air personalities (from 1983 – 2012) will return to host shows throughout the month
* "101.7 FM Sendoff Party", Saturday 7/21. Special guests will be live in the studio. Bands will return to play live in the green room.

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