Thursday, May 17, 2012

5.17.12 Bee-otch of the Day: Clear Channel

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Name: Clear Channel
Age: 40
Occupation: media giant from hell
Last Seen: San Antonio, TX
Bee-otched For: preparing to kill off another rock station

Funny. I thought that phoenixes are supposed to rise from the ashes, not the other way around.

But, it's true. One of Boston's most-legendary rock stations, WFNX is being sold to Clear Channel, ending almost 30 years of local ownership by the town's weekly alternative paper, the Boston Phoenix. On the station's website, owner Stephen M. Mindich released a memo announcing the station's sale to Clear Channel - FCC approval pending - and to thank the station's listeners for remaining faithful over the years.

In the memo, Mindich explains the top reason for selling the station, and that's because it's too tough to run a standalone radio station these days, especially in these tough economic times. WFNX has no sister stations. However, once Clear Channel gets 101.7 in its stable, its sisters will include CHR WXKS/Kiss 108, Hip-Hop WJMN/Jam'n 94.5, Talk WXKS 1200 and a Spanish station, WKOX.

The sale of WFNX doesn't include the intellectual property of the station itself, which remains with Phoenix. Only the physical station itself has been sold. However, many are now petitioning Clear Channel to keep 101.7 Alternative. Right now, Boston does have another Alt-rocker, Greater Media's WBOS/Radio 92.9. However, that station has gotten some negative press from Alternative fans for spinning such artists as Bon Jovi and Def Leppard along with the likes of Coldplay, Florence and the Machine and Nirvana.

Let's not forget that Beantown also had another now-defunct Alt-rocker, the legendary WBCN 104.1. Of course, CBS killed that heritage station for Sports. Boston already has a full-fledged rocker, WAAF 107.3.

Now, as much as I hate corporate radio, I do feel sad for Mr. Mindich and WFNX. Even in bigger towns, one-station owners are fading away. Look at Detroit. WGPR 107.5 had no sister stations for years. Suddenly, its owner, the International Free and Accepted Masons decided to sell to Radio One recently. WGPR was far behind in terms of popularity and maybe even profitability.

Same thing with another notable Alt-Rocker, Oxford, OH's WOXY/97X, which served Cincinnati. Despite a signal that barely touched that city and no sister stations, the station thrived only by being different from other stations. The station had its advertisers and fans, but the owners had enough and sold it to another broadcaster.

It's too early to tell what Clear Channel will do with 101.7 in Boston, but it did have a nice 29-year run. What might be more pitiful is that 17 folks got laid off on Wednesday, and "laid off" are two words all too common in radio these days. If you're young, good luck even THINKING about getting into radio. With companies like Clear Channel, Cumulus and others running the show and competing with the likes of Sirius, Pandora and Slacker making things tougher for corporate radio, the DJ is an occupation that's as needed as somebody wanting to buy a beat-up Pong machine these days.

So long, WFNX, another rock station lost.

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