Boston’s WFNX-FM To Be Sold To Clear Channel

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.”

Update at 2 p.m.: As the Boston Globe confirms the layoffs at WFNX, Clear Channel has released a statement on the Phoenix website. In part:

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.

5/18 Update: Andrea has posted the full transcript of her interview with Mindich, and we’ve featured some of the best comments from Sharon’s essay.

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  • Jacquelyn Aldama

    Too bad, I grew up on FNX. Of course, I barely listen to the radio these days anyway, much like watching cable tv – a waste of tv between all of the ads/commercials. 

  • FNX Fan

    I began listening to FNX in the mid-80′s when I was in high school.  Currently, it and WBUR are the only radio stations I listen to regularly.  It’s so sad to see yet another local, independent radio station join the Clear Channel Borg.

  • http://www.facebook.com/StevenGarson Steve Garson

    So sad that independent radio has become a thing of the past.  Another casualty of digital media and the shift of advertising dollars.  I for one, have migrated from listening to music on the radio, to Pandora,  Spotify or my Ipod.  So I have a certain responsibility, as well, I am sorry to say.

  • Old Punk Rocker

    I can’t believe this news! I always feared that this was inevitable due to all the techy alternatives to listening to tradtional radio.  Call me old fashioned, but I always counted on FNX to keep me current on all the new/alernative and intelligent music that’s out there. Listening to FNX during the commute to/from work was the only thing that made the long drive bearable!  First BCN and now this.  I don’t even own an iPod.  What do do now?  So depressed. Will especially miss Henry in the morning with this authoritative way of delivering the news. 

  • comment

    Nationwide it is the right wing who is financially able and politically willing to control the radio message. Who do you think the construction workers, farmers, and consumers in rural markets are listening to?

  • Smiclops

    Well I guess I can throw out my tuning knob (hey kids! Do you even know what a tuning knob is?!). WBUR is the only thing left besides college radio. Thank GOD for 88.9 and 91.3 WUNH

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