This is an editorial written by the btvn managing editor Stephen. The views expressed in this commentary are that of the managing editor and not necessarily that of the website.
While btvn‘s primary focus is on the television side of the Boston media landscape, when news broke that independent alternative station WFNX was sold to Clear Channel, I had to make note of it on the site.
Realizing that he couldn’t move his thriving
escort service advertiser print rag to the radio, Phoenix Media head Stephen Mindich cut a deal with the devil to keep his red-lit printing press moving. As a result, the outspoken critic of mass layoffs and corporate America laid off all but four of his twenty-one employees and sold his radio station to the largest operator of radio stations in the country. Not just any conglomerate, but the purveyors of crosstown talker Rush Radio 1200. As in Rush Limbaugh.
So let me get this straight, in order to protect his money, made by preaching against capitalism, Mr. Mindich sold away the lone remaining independent alt-rocker in the country and the livelihoods of those who worked there. Brilliant strategy, Mr. Mindich, absolutely brilliant.
I can understand and appreciate what he must have been going through. Saying that running a radio station in today’s economy is difficult would be an understatement. Running one station in a market of clusters is next to impossible. However, had things been as dire as the PM/GC memo said, wouldn’t you think there’d be a slow cutting rather than the fatal blow that was issued? Were live DJs at all hours of the day really necessary? Could they have gone without filling the vacancies? ‘FNX had a cult following, how about a donation drive? Nope, pocket padding sounds like a much better plan to me.
In many ways, losing WFNX is like losing the old WLVI. Sure, there were many critics of both and the money just wasn’t there, but once it’s gone, a voice is lost. The smallest television station in Boston was replaced by a repackaged version of an existing broadcast, and the smallest radio station in Boston will be replaced by another flavor of Clear Channel’s one-size-fits-all radio format.
People can’t be mad at Clear Channel, as they never abandoned their principals and their bottom line. Having the existing capacity, they saw an $11 million station and bought it. Soon we’ll be hearing “Country 101.7″ featuring some anonymous DJ from out-of-state, while people like Adam-12 and Julie Kramer are left to pick up the pieces.
In the end, the real losers are the talented staff behind Alternative Boston, as well as the dedicated listeners who have tuned in for nearly three decades. Thank you, WFNX, for the memories. Thank you for shaping my taste in music, and thank you for putting on a great show for 29 years. Life goes on, and luckily for Mr. Mindich there will (unfortunately) always be a market for the world’s oldest profession.