On Wednesday the Phoenix Media/Communications Group announced that it was selling WFNX to Clear Channel, considered by many the evil empire of radio. Almost all the staff were immediately laid off and, assuming the sale goes through, the station will likely switch to a different format.
WFNX had been around for almost 30 years, and like WBCN before it, was a crucial part of my musically formative years. From the time it went on the air in 1983 it was the cool kid among Boston radio stations, and I welcomed the station as a place on the radio dial where I knew I could find the music I cared about and wanted to hear. Over the years 'FNX introduced me to hundreds of new artists, some that wouldn't merit airplay on any of the other, more commercial station in the area.
Part of its appeal was its status as an independent station, the last remaining one in Boston. But as much as I loved and appreciated WFNX over the years, I had not been a regular listener in a long time. Part of that was simply because I don't drive, which is where many people listen to most of the radio they consume. But I had pretty much stopped listening to any radio, not because of technological changes, but because it just wasn't as satisfying to me anymore. I did listen to music much of the time at work, but I used my personal iTunes library; for some reason it never occurred to me to click into 'FNX's streaming feed.
So now WFNX becomes another piece of our shared past that's gone, with nothing left but memories and nostalgia. Or maybe not quite. I did have a personal connection with the station that most other listeners didn't. Back in the late 1990s WFNX used to do a fundraising event for World AIDS Day. In 1998 midday DJ Julie Kramer offered listeners the opportunity to join her in hosting the "Leftover Lunch" show in exchange for a contribution. The Mrs. made the donation as a gift for me, and I did my show the following January. They made a copy of the broadcast for me on a cassette tape, and a few years back I converted it into an mp3 file. Here's the playlist:
David Bowie: "'Heroes'"
The B-52's: "Legal Tender"*
INXS: "Don't Change"
Elvis Costello: "Radio Radio"
New Order: "Temptation"
U2: "Out Of Control"
The Lucy Show: "Ephemeral (This Is No Heaven)"
Pretenders: "Talk Of The Town"
Roxy Music: "Over You"
X: "The Hungry Wolf"
Shriekback: "Hand On My Heart"
The dB's: "Never Before And Never Again"
Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians: "Heaven"
O Positive: "With You"
Tommy Keene: "In Our Lives"
Graham Parker: "Discovering Japan"
The Church: "Tantalized"
(*a request from the Mrs. that I had to play, since she was the reason I was there)
Thank you Julie, and thank you WFNX, for all the great radio memories.