Listening to WFNX 1983-2012

Celebrating the live and times of 101.7 FM, Boston's only true alternative radio station
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  July 24, 2012


MARCH 25, 1999


The Phoenix Media/Communications Group purchases two stations in Sanford, Maine, as the first step toward forming "the 'FNX Radio Network." The move enlarges WFNX's north-south range so that it extends from Marshfield, Massachusetts, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine.

MAY 17, 1999

Elliott Smith plays Best Music Poll on Lansdowne Street with Mercury Rev, Buffalo Tom, Cracker, Cowboy Mouth, the Shods, and Gravel Pit.

JULY 11, 1999

LISTEN: The station airs a two-hour special to remember Morphine's Mark Sandman, who died suddenly in Italy. Hear it in the "Best of 1999" playlist at


Tori Amos plays a show for 100 WFNX listeners at the Modern on Lansdowne Street to benefit AIDS Action Committee, a performance broadcast live on-air.


Phoenix Media buys WWRX (103.7 FM) in Providence, Rhode Island, and extends WFNX to the South. "For the past 12 years we've been proud to publish the Providence Phoenix," says Mindich, "and the acquisition of a major broadcast outlet in Rhode Island completes a long-held vision."

MAY 16, 2001

N.E.R.D., a new project by hip-hop's newly preeminent producers, the Neptunes, makes its first-ever live appearance at Best Music Poll. The group have released all of one single, and have not yet put together the live band that will eventually re-record their entire debut album and hit the road with them. Instead, Pharrell and Chad roll onstage on BMX bikes, spit a few lackluster songs backed by a DJ, and then bring out a dozen strippers in bathing suits and George W. Bush Halloween masks for the most unforgettable rendition of "Lapdance" ever performed. "The ultra-rare gig made a perfect set-up for the high-profile national tour," the Phoenix's Brett Milano recalled, "except that there never was one."

MARCH 2003

Following a dark winter of the soul that saw the station adopt a nu-metal playlist in a legendarily ill-advised ploy to suck up to active-rock listeners, WFNX comes home and announces it's going back to its roots. "Once upon a time, back when words like Bizkit and Korn were still spelled correctly, the Phoenix's flagship radio station, WFNX-FM, could be counted on to deliver the best of punk, post-punk, new-wave, and alternative music," the Phoenix wrote at the time. "Then the nu-metal dudes muscled in. And before long, the station's fare had shifted to what 'FNX program director Cruze described to the Boston Globe as a "suburban-angry-white-boy vibe."

"Now, as the station kicks off its 20th-anniversary year, it's reconnecting with its past. Once again, old-guard heroes like Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, Boston's own Pixies, and recent Hall of Fame inductees Clash will be showcased, along with newer phenoms like the White Stripes, Coldplay, and the Soundtrack of Our Lives and, of course, alt-rock behemoths like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers."

PLAY WFNX The format overhaul kicks off with a "Top 500 WFNX Songs of All Time" marathon, which you can now listen to as a Spotify playlist.

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