Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Salon - I Still Believe

We got some big, bad news in Boston this week- WFNX, a 29-year-old independent alternative-music radio station (one of the last in the city) was sold to Clear Channel Corporation. I have been an FNX listener since my teens- 20+ years of its run- and I just don't know what I'm going to do.

I love books and reading, but I love music too, and I can't imagine growing up without the music I love, so much of which I heard on FNX. I didn't have angsty YA novels to get me through college and high school; I had The Smiths, and The Cure and The Ramones. I remember getting ready for school everyday to Morning Guy Tai and Henry Santoro's news. I remember the time when Tai was late for his shift and the overnight DJ vowed to play Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" over and over until he arrived- and did, for about forty minutes. I remember learning about Boston's gay community by listening to the weekly radio show One in Ten. I remember when FNX did its live on-air reading of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. I remember driving through Boston on a spring day with FNX on, making me feel at home in the city.  I remember joking with my husband that we couldn't tune FNX in in a western suburb because that town "wasn't cool enough" to get the signal. And how for a full minute he believed me! I remember falling asleep to Dr. Drew and "Loveline," and wrapping presents on Christmas Eve to FNX's amazing mix of alternative Christmas music, and all those long afternoons and mornings and nights, as recently as this week, just living my life with the radio on the in the background.

Along with its media sister, the weekly newspaper The Boston Phoenix, FNX taught me that there was a world beyond my suburban home town and showed me how to be a part of it. Without One in Ten I never would have volunteered at AIDS Action Committee or explored gay bookstores or read Alison Bechdel's comics 15 years before Fun Home. Without their annual Christmas show I wouldn't have known that Fountains of Wayne really wanted an alien for Christmas, or that punk bands could lighten up for the holidays. I went to see movies they talked about on-air, read books they mentioned (including Howl), shopped with their advertisers and never mind how much of my music collection and how much of my day to day listening they've influenced. FNX wasn't just a radio station; it was a part of my identity. Pretty soon though, all it's going to be is a playlist on my iPod to which I will never add another new song.

From news coverage on the sale, it seems Clear Channel wants to turn the station into something else- talk radio or country music or who-knows-what. Boston doesn't need something else. Boston needs WFNX. It needs independent alternative radio because music matters and the people who pick it out, curate it and narrate it matter too. In the words of Francis Edward Turner,

And I still believe in the need
For guitars and drums and desperate poetry,
And I still believe that everyone
Can find a song for every time they've lost and every time they've won.


So just remember folks we're not just saving lives we're saving souls,
And we're having fun.


Now who'd have thought that after all,
Something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all...
Who'd have thought that after all, it's rock 'n' roll?

The station will be broadcasting for a while yet while the sale goes through. Listen on the air or online while you still can.

More Sunday Salon here.

13 comments:

mominsanity said...

Oh no...we get The River up here and I totally thought that they had been sold and then I would have been in complete and utter despair. I'm still upset about it though because there are enough radio stations out there that play the same s*** day after day and so few radio stations that play quality, independent, local bands. ::sigh::

bermudaonion said...

It's so sad when big corporations eat up great indies. :(

alexinleeds.com said...

I'm saddened and I don't even know the station, it sounds feisty and fabulous though. (Also I'm a Frank Turner fan and love the quote you chose.)

Steve Garfield said...

Update:

Clear Channel is not buying WFNX. They’re buying 101.7.
http://www.wbur.org/2012/05/18/wfnx-sale

Sandy Nawrot said...

I was just waxing reminiscent the other day to my kids about the album rock stations I used to listen to as a teenager. I really miss those days. It is like watching your favorite little mom and pop store go under because a Wal Mart moved into town. I guess it is inevitable, but dammit, I continue to support the little guys in hopes that we can keep them around as long as possible. I sure hope that what Steve up there says is true. Maybe you'll have WFNX around a little longer.

Marie said...

Please to explain the difference.

Marie said...

What Steve says is confusing. The station is shutting down. FNX's "intellectual property" will remain the property of its parent company,the Phoenix Media Corp. But the station is shutting down.

Mary said...

Profoundly sad. I've spoken with a couple of my Boston area girlfriends this weekend, and they are heartbroken, for which i don't blame them one bit! Clear Channel is a bunch of heart and soul sucking a******s. It's all about independent book sellers, radio stations, etc, and supporting them as much as possible, but sadly, many still can't afford to stay in business. Clear Channel has bought out 2-3 Portland, OR area radio stations too in the last year or so. I don't like to be negative, but it really does make me a little nauseous. Our world is becoming so homogenized... Well. I hope you had a good weekend, Marie, in spite of that news. I wish things had turned out differently!

BHer said...

I spent 2 years in grad school in Boston and FNX was my introduction to the incredible diversity and openness Boston is - and was my only friend at the beginning. I saw a ton of great shows and was opened up to new music, some of which I still listen to. it is a great loss.

It's not the same entirely, but more diverse in some ways - try 89.3 the Current from Minnesota Public Radio.

bkclubcare said...

hugs

Literary Feline said...

Such sad news. :-( So many stations in my area are the same nowadays. I miss the individuality and diversity that once existed.

Ryan said...

The Smiths. Oh God, The Smiths. I wouldn't have made it this far without them. I feel your pain. Our Alternative radio station was sold to a major corporation back in 2000.

Amy said...

That is such sad news, I'm sorry to hear it! We NEED more independent news and media all over the world, and I'm sad that you are losing yours.