Friday, July 20, 2012
WFNX streams out as Clear Channel sails into the Harbor
WFNX 101.7, which for 29 years impressed its loyal listeners as the most adventurous commercial radio station in Boston, lost its battle with low ratings and tight advertising market tonight and left local airwaves to try to make it as an online-only radio station. This evening, at around 7pm, former WFNX personality(1987-1995,1998-2000), Neal Robert ushered out the alternative rocker off the terrestrial radio with the same tune that launched it back on March 15, 1983 – The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed”. Robert bid farewell but not final goodbye : "FNX has always been about the future and while the station is migrating off of the FM dial ... FNX will continue online"
The station then switched to an automated music stream which will run on 101.7 until the new owner, Clear Channel, is ready to install a new format to go with a new set of call letters. That’s expected to happen sometime on Monday(7/23).
WFNX left a huge mark on the radio landscape over the past three decades as it helped to break a number of new local and national acts. But because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, independent station owners in Boston and elsewhere are being forced to sell or adopt formats that rely more on popular Top 40 music or more familiar pre-tested selections that are neither new nor cutting-edge.
Earlier this year, WFNX’s outgoing owner, Stephen Mindich and his company Phoenix Media Communications Group, made the decision to not to play the corporate radio game any longer and sold WFNX to Clear Channel for $14.5 million back in May(BRW 5/16). Rather than changing the sound, spirit and soul of what has earned WFNX an alternative rock pioneer status, the station bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and took an alternative course by putting its brand on the Internet-only stream, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives, be it grunge, punk or alternative - simply put, a true alternative.
As for Clear Channel, the new owner of 101.7 is replacing WFNX call letters with WHBA and new moniker The Harbor 101.7. According to a report on RadioInsight, a new website theharbor1017.com was just registered earlier today. RadioInsight is also reporting, and there’s still no confirmation from Clear Channel, that the new format under the new The Harbor 101.7 moniker will be Variety Hits which would very similar to the former WMKK/93.7 Mike(2005-2011) - a jockless format playing a variety of music, mostly from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Mike enjoyed a modest rating success with the key 25-54 demographic during its 6-year run in Boston consistently placing in Top10 among that group. But because WEEI 850’s was falling seriously behind the upstart sports newcomer WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub, its parent company Entercom unplugged Mike to run WEEI’s simulcast on FM last September(BRW 9/7/11).
Again, there's been no official announcement from Clear Channel so it remains to be seen what the new actual format is going to sound like even we now know the new call letters and station moniker.
BRW Notebook :
Gino calls it a radio career : Longtime Patriots radio analyst Gino "The Duke" Cappelletti has decided to retire after an amazing 32-year broadcast career. He, along with legendary play-by-play man Gil Santos, have called Patriots games for CBS Radio (on WBZ 1030, WBCN 104.1 and most recently on WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub) for 28 seasons. Full release and Capplletti's retirement letter are here.
Cappelletti, 78, has been in the game of football for nearly 50 years. Before his radio career, which earned him a spot in the team's Hall of Fame, Cappelletti played in the NFL as a wide receiver and a kicker in the old American Football League for the Boston Patriots. He was a five-time All Star and was selected to the All-Time AFL Team.
The Honor Roll : Finalists for the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards competition have been announced. Established in 1989 and named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the awards are given to radio stations and outstanding on-air personalities to recognize excellence in radio.
Two local stations that were nominated this year include: WEEI 93.7 for Sports Station of the Year, WZLX 100.7 for Rock Station of the Year. The winners will be announced Sept. 20.
This is the 5th time WEEI has been nominated for the radio industry’s most prestigious award, which it has won three times, twice in 2006 for Large Market Station and Sports Station of the Year, and once in 2008 for Sports Station of the Year. Last year, WEEI lost out to its new crosstown rival WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub in the Best Sports Station category(BRW 9/16/11).