BOSTON — Independent Boston rock station WFNX-FM may soon have a new owner.
According to a letter posted by the Boston Phoenix, the station will be sold to Clear Channel Communications, pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
Said Phoenix Publisher Stephen Mindich in the letter:
Despite its celebrated history, its cutting edge programming, its tradition of breaking new music, its ardent fans among listeners and advertisers, for some time it has been difficult to sustain the station — especially since the start of the Great Recession.
As the Boston Business Journal notes, “WFNX is owned by the Boston-based Phoenix Media/Communications Group, which also owns the Boston Phoenix” and other publications.
The BBJ also reports that two DJs, Julie Kramer and Henry Santoro, and 15 staff members have been let go.
In his memo, Mindich said “WFNX will remain on the air during the time it takes to complete the FCC process.”
This was a great opportunity to expand our footprint and our listenership in Boston, a key market with millions of fans who love radio as much as we do.
It added: “Since 1983 the station has played an historic role in bringing new music to audiences in and around Boston.”
Update at 3:15 p.m.: In an interview with WBUR’s Andrea Shea, Mindich called it a “last-resort” decision. “It is the single most difficult day of my 47-year business career,” he said.
“I don’t think this is an issue of old media versus old media,” he added to Andrea. “We haven’t lost audience, neither on air nor any of our print publications. The struggle is for advertising and the sheer pie that has shrunk.”
Andrea also spoke with Boston Globe art critic Joan Anderman, who said of the sale: “It’s not so much shocking to me as depressing. It’s almost predictable, but it was sort of the last game on the commercial dial.”
5/17 Update: WBUR host Sharon Brody, who worked at WFNX for 13 years, offers an essay on the station.