By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A blow to independent radio

This is very sad news indeed: Boston Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich has announced that WFNX Radio (101.7 FM), one of the few big-market independent rock stations in the country, is being sold to Clear Channel.

The Phoenix has posted Mindich’s email to the staff here.

I remain part of the Phoenix family, and my best wishes go out to everyone affected. Mindich has fought hard to keep his media holdings out of the clutches of corporate chain ownership. But economic conditions remain miserable.

The FCC must approve the sale.

Clear Channel owns 850 radio stations in 150 cities. Its Boston stations are WJMN (94.5 FM), WXKS-FM (107.9 FM), WXKS-AM (AM 1200) and the Spanish-language station WKOX (AM 1430).

Update: Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal has more details.

Still more: Donna Goodison has a very good, thorough story in the Boston Herald. D.C. Denison has a briefer account at

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  1. Sean Griffin

    This is sad, but does anyone even listen to commercial Rock radio anymore, besides when they are at the hair salon?

  2. Here in New hampshire, the question is: what happens to the repeater (92.1) on Pack Monadnock?

  3. Hartley Pleshaw

    I’m certainly no fan of corporate behemoths gobbling up local media institutions, but I think some perspective is called for here. If “alternative rock” (or whatever it’s called these days) was sufficiently popular, WFNX would still be profitable, and Steven Mindich wouldn’t have sold it. (On the other hand, rap/hip-hop and “dance music” stations seem to be doing just fine.) Maybe, just maybe, as was the case with WBCN three years ago (but in fact originating long before that), rock music as such simply isn’t as popular or as culturally influential as it once was. While the punkers, grungers and the mosh pitters from the late-80’s and 1990’s (some of whom now have prominent positions in the media, and have and will let their discontent be known) may lament the passing of the happy days of their youth, times have changed (just as it changed for incorrigible Beatlemaniac/aging hippies like me). And one more thing: for all their legendary punk “attitudes,” how many members of WFNX’s core audience were in fact fighting the power when it came to the battles over media deregulation and corporatization back the the ’80’s and ’90’s? (For that matter, what about the Boston Phoenix itself? While strongly for free speech and civil liberties, the paper has also always taken a laissez-faire attitude toward economics. You can oppose corporatization, or you can sing the praises of the unfettered “free market,” but, alas, you can’t do both at the same time.)

  4. L.K. Collins

    Of course, Dan, content could NEVER be part of the problem.

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