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




"I will say that the place was a total dump," Mary Breslauer reflects, referring to the station where she worked as news director in 1983 and '84. For Breslauer, the WFNX news-director position was her "first big job" after living on Martha's Vineyard for 10 years. And it meant scrambling at 5:30 every morning to put together a newscast — a task thankfully made easier by the Phoenix reporters who were often on hand to deliver a story or two on the air. But it was still, nevertheless, a time of growing up in public, of smoothing out those rough edges.

"I remember a time when I flubbed a piece and [then–program director] Judith Brackley started throwing cards at me," says Breslauer. "She was whipping cards at me because I had really screwed up on the air. I grew up in a hurry and learned how to duck. Being a '50s kid, I thought ducking just had to do with the A-bomb. I didn't know it had to do with survival at 'FNX."

Boston Phoenix, 1998

-- 1985


"The walls — it looks like a piece of sculpture," says Warhol to WFNX news director Henry Santoro, describing his surroundings as he's being interviewed in the station's soundproofed Lynn studios. "It's three-dimensional wallpaper. You could throw yourself against it and bounce right back off it. And it has some old newspaper. Outside it looks like the Mary Tyler Moore show, because of all the pretty girls running around." Warhol, who was on a promotional tour for his photo book, America, had agreed to sit for three radio interviews in Boston: with WFNX, WRKO, and WBCN. "He shows up at WRKO and not five minutes goes by and he gets up from the interview and walks out and says, 'I -don't feel like being here anymore,' " Santoro recalled in 1998. "He then goes to WBCN and gets up and leaves after five minutes. He's coming here next and I'm thinking, 'What can I do to make Andy Warhol stay?' And I had a list of questions and an introduction, and sure enough, the receptionist says that Andy Warhol's in the lobby. So I decide to throw my notes away and wing it." Warhol stayed for an hour.

PLAY WFNX: Listen to WFNX interview Andy Warhol.

JANUARY 12, 1986

That sound you hear is the new kid in town punching the older kid in the face. As an upstart independent station, WFNX was invariably compared to WBCN, the corporate-owned station that had helped invent FM rock radio in the '60s, but by the 1980s was becoming old hat. In a few short years, WFNX had quickly established a reputation as a groundbreaking new-music station and was running rings around its competitors. In 1986, WBCN's supposed legends were already beginning to crumble under the pressure. The following paragraph comes from the Boston Globe:

"Is this going to be another hatchet job on 'BCN? That we're not as hip as 'FNX, that our calendars aren't hip enough, that I'm not hip enough?" asked WBCN program director Oedipus when contacted for this story. "I don't mind people taking shots at me. I just want them to be fair and honest." WFNX-FM, based in Lynn, is the new kid on the block, a David to WBCN's Goliath . . . a 3000-watt station that has made a small dent in the Boston market, but, arguably, a larger dent in its mindset."

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