WFNX Goes Jockless Before Going Dark

BOSTON — Friday is the last day listeners will hear live DJs on WFNX-FM, Boston’s last independently owned radio station. DJs from WFNX’s 30-year past will man the mics before programming is automated at 7 p.m.

Neal Robert is one of them. He hosted afternoons in the 1980s and ’90s and the popular show “Asleep at the Wheel.”

“It’s a big honor, but it’s also somewhat daunting,” Robert said. “You know it’s a station I really grew up at and it’s very strange to be coming back to be shutting it off.”

Clear Channel bought WFNX’s signal in May for $14.5 million, shocking loyal listeners and musicians.

The station has been introducing new bands, including Nirvana, to Boston’s airwaves since 1983. WFNX gained a national reputation as an outlet with a knack for identifying the next cool thing.

“We were only a 3,000-watt station,” Robert recalled. He started as an intern in 1984. “I think a lot of people didn’t really give us much credit early on, but then people realized that this was something happening in Boston, and it was alternative rock before it was actually named alternative rock.”

Robert hasn’t worked at WFNX since 2000. He said he stopped working there after realizing how tough it is to make a living in the indie music radio marketplace.

“At one point we used to drop songs when they became too popular,” the former DJ said. “Which is really unusual for a radio station. In fact, it doesn’t really work well on the business side, but it was who we were.”

Most of WFNX’s most recent staff was laid off when the station was sold.

Jock-less programming on 101.7 FM will continue until Clear Channel initiates its own broadcasts.

After that, WFNX will continue as a fully automated, Web-only streaming station.

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  • http://www.savagevenus.net/ Flitzy

    Ugh, and big media kills, yet another, radio station that actually had personality rather then continuing to churn out the latest corporate drivel that’s called music these days. :

    And they wonder why no one listens to their “radio stations” anymore.

    We don’t want a boring radio playlist of the corporate approved songs – we want artists that actually KNOW something about music, talking to us and telling a story.

  • Mysticeti

    “Boston’s last independently owned radio station…” 

    I thought WXRV was “independent”.   Perhaps I’m missing the distinction.

    • midtempo

       92.5 “The River” WXRV is indeed an independent station, but because it broadcasts from Haverhill and on 105.7 somewhere in New Hampshire, it’s not considered part of the Boston market for some reason.  This despite the fact that I live in Malden and can get the station, though in Boston itself it’s rather spotty and unreliable.

  • midtempo

    Jockless programming on 101.7 FM will continue…

    Is “Jockless” a word?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DS5EYQSYYVIGTD5OLZGJVNXIPY Robert

    Was attending an “old geezer” college radio reunion in upstate NY a couple of weeks ago.  Our lament was that the “golden-age” was long passed.  But the more shocking comment from one of the assembled was to note the dilemma of the current radio station: that vitally none of the entering Freshmen brought a “radio” with them to campus any more – it was a world of iPods, Pandora, and other streaming media.  It was only the older “townies” who had and listened to “radios” any more.  Sobering!  Mourn the passing.

  • Nomad943

    And the noose gets a little tighter ….

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