I'm 41 and grew up listening to WFNX since early high school in New Hampshire. I would have to move my boombox around and adjust the antenna to get signal. Now I listen to 'FNX each morning while driving my son to school. He grew up listening to 'FNX thanks to the Internet broadcast. Just how it goes these days, I guess.
Jeff Sheidow, Charleston, SC
Twenty-five years ago I used to hide my radio under the covers so my mom didn't know I was still listening after bedtime. 'FNX turned me on to bands that i would love for the rest of my life, like the Smiths, Siouxie, the Cure, Violent Femmes, the Pixies, INXS, and Adam Ant. I have listened every day since then. Thanks 'FNX — you saved me from the mind-rotting garbage on the other stations, and I will always love you for it.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we had no Internetz. Mine was a world of mix tapes and mix tapes and more mix tapes. The vast majority of my music collection was in 90-minute cassette format, dubbed from vinyl belonging to my worshipped older brother, my boyfriend, and my feisty older sister who made it very clear that I could dub her favorite records onto tape as long as I did not become a fan of the bands she liked — U2, Rush, the Replacements.
Then came eighth grade. In an almost unbelievable storybook moment, my cool social-studies teacher, Mr. Kollen, suggested I listen to WFNX. I resisted. Radio was for pop crap, and by eighth grade I knew what was cool: the Cure, Cocteau Twins, the Replacements, David Bowie. Radio was left behind in seventh grade: the land of WZOU, home of New Kids on the Block.
"They play the Cure," he told me.
The Cure was my favorite band.
I tuned in suspiciously.
Holy fuck: they were playing good music.
I was sold and started making tapes immediately.
I would tape a random 90 minutes of 'FNX and listen to it with the focused attentiveness of a med-school student: they were the arbiters of cool, and I was there to listen.
The Lightning Seeds, They Might Be Giants, Throwing Muses, the The, the Pursuit of Happiness, Think Tree, and endless other bands starting with T marinated my brain slowly. I took the bus, then the subway, to Harvard Square on the weekends and spent countless hours poring through Mystery Train, Second Coming, and In Your Ear searching for albums by the bands I'd heard. I was beefing up my collection, care of DJs with names like Joanne Doody and Julie Kramer. Women who had anonymous faces but whose voices were like priests: giving me holy transmission to Go Forth and Find New Music.
In his classroom that eighth-grade year, Mr. Kollen hung a WFNX calendar. I have no idea how he got it. All I knew is that the month of August bore a photograph of a Disintegration-era Cure, Robert Smith all cute and lipstick-y in a loud loud shirt. My co-conspirator and best friend Holly and I would take turns flipping the calendar to August, no matter what the month. Mr. Kollen would switch it back to the Cult (November) or Tears for Fears (February), but we would defeat him on a daily basis, flipping the calendar to the Cure picture with a solemn mantra we would chant to one another, making a holy-fake-genuflection with our hands:
"It is forever August," we would solemnly proclaim, keeping straight faces and swearing our lifelong faithfulness to the band, the calendar, and our undying desire to someday fuck Robert Smith, wife be damned. (Actually, that was my fantasy. Holly was more preoccupied with Johnny Depp from 21 Jump Street.)
My family announced that spring that we were going to take a trip to London. My heart slammed (maybe I'll finally meet Robert Smith). I chose tapes very carefully: Violator by Depeche Mode, a Yaz 90-minute tape with either album on each side, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret by Soft Cell, and a new hour-long tape direct from my boombox's transmission of WFNX a few days before the trip (with the volume down) that I dubbed "the 'FNX London hour." I didn't allow myself to listen to the music until we were airborne. I knew that these songs, whatever they were, would be he historic soundtrack to my first trip the UK.
I didn't score Robert Smith. But I did score another British husband who grew up a few towns over and also made pretty decent art, so . . . not bad.
About a decade later, I ran into the singer from Think Tree, Peter Moore. I couldn't believe I was meeting one of my idols. (Holly would've shit herself. I'm talking to the guy who wrote "Hire a Bird.") Soon after, his band, Count Zero, was opening up for my band, the Dresden Dolls, on a tour across the entire country.
It was August. For real this time.
Thank You, 'FNX.