We Are FNX

In what seemed like an unusual and painfully ironic turn of events, the legendary Boston radio station 101.7 WFNX recently announced that they were being sold to the national media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. Shortly after the news was announced several WFNX employees, some friends and colleagues, were laid off. It was ironic because Parlour Bells had just spent the previous week appearing not only on WFNX but on another legendary radio station that was also taken from the Boston airwaves back in 2009, WBCN, which has since been reborn online.

We can only hope that WFNX is somehow able to salvage the brand for the sake of our City because its values are uniquely attuned to the culture of the Metropolitan Boston area. We think they can accomplish this by transitioning to an online format and believe that there is a more sustainable environment for this kind of business model at the present time.

A second shoe dropped the following day, when the Boston Herald speculated that Clear Channel could be preparing to move WXKS-AM, a talk station that features the likes of partisan mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Jay Severin, to the 101.7 FM frequency. Seeing a political thread that extended from Clear Channel’s parent company Bain Capital to the partisan content represented by the aforementioned programming (during an election season no less) was unsettling to say the least. However the real blow is the economic hardships this will present to the Boston music community. While it may not seem like much, a decent paying music gig might provide a few extra bucks to someone struggling to make ends meet with their dayjob. WFNX was generous in the exposure they offered to local musicians, with two hours each Sunday night devoted entirely to Boston’s music scene on Boston Accents, and even finding a few minutes in precious programming time to occasionally work in an artist during peak listening hours. They helped foster and launch the careers of rising Boston talent throughout their 29 years of broadcasting. And this exposure gave artists the opportunity to promote paying shows, which in turn served as promotion for the bars and venues at which they’d be performing. More important, the radio station provided jobs to the program directors, production staff and, of course, the DJs.

In this age of Spotify, Pandora and a seemingly endless menu of on-demand streams of digital media, the humanizing element of the in-studio radio host is still meaningful. While on-demand is immediately satisfying, it is also coldly masturbatory. At the end, you realize you are still there alone with your tastes and preferences, and have discovered nothing. Shuffling your collection or allowing algorithms to guide your journey is hardly random. Radio is communal and left to chance. (Okay, perhaps that last part is an illusion. But it’s a damn good one). And that local voice behind the mic reminds you that you are part of something slightly bigger. Not so big that your are insignificant, or that you don’t have a say. Big in the sense that you belong. So as the medium evolves, moves from hi-fi to WiFi, and continues to expand its menu of offerings, we encourage you to make local broadcasts part of your media diet and be part of where you are. Belong.