I tweeted the following earlier: “affiliations aside, i think that we all agree that @wfnx being sold to clear channel is a blow to #bostonmusic.” Instead of getting into a retweet contest or a social media back-and-forth with everyone who’s confused as to why the Music Editor of DigBoston, the Phoenix’s alt-weekly competitor, is mourning the loss of the latter’s radio station, I think I’ll spell it out for you clearly:
I am a supporter of Boston music and a participant in the Boston music scene, and for that reason, I’m upset about a local independent radio station like WFNX being sold to a national conglomerate like Clear Channel.
We can break this down a little further, if you’d like. Many may gripe about the fact that WFNX play the Black Keys and Beck and Green Day on the hour every hour, sure. I’ve cracked a joke or two at the station’s expense for that very reason and I’m not ashamed of it. WFNX also incorporates the music of local bands into it’s regular programming seamlessly, showcasing bands like Mean Creek and You Can Be A Wesley and Viva Viva alongside the Foster The Peoples and Funs and Joy Formidables that strangers to the Boston music scene may recognize.
To play a Bostonian underdog’s song before or after a major, recognizable single is a GOOD thing by association. It introduces the local band to listeners tuning into WFNX as one on par with the national hit-maker, and hey, maybe the local band will get a few more new listeners out to the show and cultivate more fans. How can that POSSIBLY be a bad thing, for the band, the local venues that support them and their growing fan base? Though there are a handful of fantastic local music programs on Boston radio stations right now–namely Boston Emissions on WZLX, which moved from WBCN after that station was sold in 2009–WFNX is the only station to keep this line between out-of-town headliner and local wunderkind blurred. To lose a station with that kind of programming, regardless of who’s writing the paychecks, is a shitty thing for the Boston music community, plain and simple.
And regarding who was writing the checks? Though yes, DigBoston has published many a Media Farm eviscerating the Phoenix over any industry rumor our anonymous columnist could get their hands on, we count many members of the editorial staff at the Phoenix as friends of ours. When it comes to my connection with the Phoenix staff, the music crew–especially Phoenix Music Editor and WFNX’s Boston Accents host Michael Marotta–and I have been going to the same shows, national and domestic, for years now, and to take delight in an announcement of this nature that directly impacts him and his writers in a very negative way is, frankly, morbid and unprofessional. Michael and I don’t necessarily have the same tastes, and sure, sometimes we scoop each other when it comes to profiling a local band we’re both really excited about. But he’s a fantastic colleague, one whose pieces I read and radio program I listened to, and the man cares very much about doing this city right when it comes to giving Boston bands and members of its music community the attention they deserve. He’s been supportive of me when I’ve posted controversial pieces and when I’ve booked local lineups for various DigBoston events, and I support him and his editorial judgment when it comes to Boston Accents, the Best Music Poll, whatever.
That doesn’t matter so much, though. What matters is that the sale of WFNX means that the future of a program like Boston Accents is TBD, and that in itself is a blow to the Boston music scene.
Am I bawling my eyes out over a shot to the competition? No–hell, I don’t know what’s going on over on Brookline Ave. any more than the rest of the city, and I’m not going to make assumptions about how everything’s being handled behind closed doors. Am I distraught over this hefty setback facing a group of journalists, DJs and producers I respect and value both as colleagues and friends? Yeah, absolutely. And am I worried about what this could ultimately mean for local, independent music coverage on the whole? I don’t want to even get into it.
I love being a member of the DigBoston editorial staff, and I’ve gone on record plenty of times saying that I’m the luckiest music journo in the country because I get to immerse myself in Boston music and call it work. The folks of WFNX and the Phoenix do that as well, and I think that that’s what people need to remember, here–that an outlet and a resource for Boston music may not have a future, and that in itself is a terrible thing.
So. There’s my piece. Support local music, support local musicians, and support your local independent media. Affiliations aside, losing an independent radio station is a blow to Boston music, plain and simple.