By spinning discs by those bands and dozens more early and often, WFNX established its reputation as a leader — the place where record labels large and small seek airplay for inventive new bands, and the place that could make those bands stars.
"When I was in college in Philadelphia, I knew about WFNX," says Driscoll, who joined the station six years ago. "This was before the Internet, so the station's legend for playing all kinds of great music traveled by word of mouth. I had a friend who would come up to Boston in the summer, and I had him make me tapes of WFNX."
An important part of those tapes was local music. The early recordings from the likes of the Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Juliana Hatfield, and Tracy Bonham — as well as now-gone outfits such as Tribe, the Zulus, and Fuzzy — were in regular rotation, playing many times a day. WFNX's airplay provided those bands and artists the break they needed to etch their place in music history.
Today, WFNX continues its commitment to local music with the New England Product show, airing at 10 pm on Sundays. The program focuses on New England artists, with an accent, in the grand WFNX tradition, on breaking new music that has the potential to become important. And diversity's important too. A recent playlist showed both "This Lonely Love" from comeback kid Juliana Hatfield's new disc and two tunes from the Major Labels, a new buzz-band power-pop trio featuring Mike Viola of Candy Butchers, Bleu, and longtime Boston drummer Ducky Carlisle.
Although WFNX has always looked ahead, the station has had a place for legendary innovators, too. Throughout its history, punk-rock gods such as Patti Smith, X, the Ramones, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed have been staples — both their new and classic recordings. Even country giant Johnny Cash made the playlist with his late-career recordings with producer Rick Rubin. And, of course, pop heroes from U2 to the Raconteurs are on WFNX's frequency, as well.
It's an incredible, rare mix of music that makes WFNX a little giant — a leader in an industry of followers.
As R&R's Boyle puts it: "There are only a handful of real alternative radio stations that have the sense of adventure and discovery to really deserve the name, and WFNX is definitely one of them."