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


NOVEMBER 24, 1986

LISTEN: Listen to two hours of WFNX in the "Best of 1986" playlist at


In 1986, when the "old rock" station in town tried to do a live concert broadcast of the Godfathers, a band that we had championed in Boston, people flooded into the Paradise Rock Club and chanted "'FNX!" over and over again. Our call letters were clearly belted over their airwaves, and our listeners booed their jock off the stage.

-- Andy Kingston, former station manager

The several occasions that John Lydon visited 'FNX were always quite memorable. The first time, I was so nervous that I was actually going to meet Johnny Rotten, I practically had a heart attack. He was coming up the steps, and as I opened the door to let him in, he looked right at me and said, "I feel like fucking puking everywhere." I told him the bathroom was down the hall, and he proceeded to vomit all over the 'FNX bathroom. I guess he had some bad clam chowder. Another Lydon moment was when I was preparing to interview Johnny before a Best Music Poll. We had a technical problem, and he got very fed up, told me to "sod off," and walked away, 30 seconds before we went on the air. I never got the interview.

-- Kurt St. Thomas, former program director

PLAY WFNX: In the early 1990s, the nightly free-form show Radio Free Boston delves head-first into the madness of the music yet to be genre-boxed as "alternative."

APRIL 18, 1990 


WFNX DJ Duane Bruce introduces Nirvana on stage at Man Ray, the goth club in Central Square. There are about 75 people in the room. Dave Grohl hasn't joined the band yet; Chad Channing is still on drums — though not for much longer. The group is about to head into the studio with Butch Vig. "I had been enjoying their Sub Pop album, Bleach, and then the Man Ray show blew me away," music director Kurt St. Thomas later recalled. "It was really loud, and in-your-face, and with all that guitar-smashing it was like punk rock again. For some reason, it was what I needed in my life at that time."

PLAY WFNX: Listen to Nirvana's historic performance.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1990 


"Back in 1990, local bands were still filling most of the slots," the Phoenix's Brett Milano wrote 13 years later. "But the bill that played that year — the Cavedogs, Tribe, Think Tree, Bim Skala Bim, and the Bardots (later called the 360's), with B-52 Fred Schneider as the guest host — was one that local-rock enthusiasts would likely kill to see today." WFNX's seventh birthday bash took place in the clubs on Lansdowne Street — back then it was Citi, Axis, Venus de Milo, and Bill's Bar — where the highlights included Mojo Nixon wiping his ass with a photo of Don Henley while playing the song "Don Henley Must Die," and a fan getting his nose broken in the pit during the Soup Dragons. Also on hand for the night were: the Feelies, Evan Dando, Heretix, Tribe. . . . The Feelies' Stan Demeski tells the audience: "I don't think you guys know how good you have it up here with 'FNX."

JULY 10, 1991


WFNX throws a series of new-music shows at Citi on Lansdowne Street. A few weeks earlier the lineup had featured four future Boston legends: Bullet LaVolta, Volcano Suns, Come, and Green Magnet School. On this night, the headliner is the Lemonheads. The opening group? Some band from Seattle called Pearl Jam.

AUGUST 29, 1991


At 7 pm, music director Kurt St. Thomas gives Nirvana's Nevermind its world premiere — a full month before the album's release date — by playing the entire disc in sequence on the WFNX airwaves.

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