Rock of Boston goes off the air

Adam Reilly tweets that Mix 98.5 will take over WBCN's 104.1 frequency while 98.5 will become a sports-talk station, since Boston doesn't have enough of those. In August. He has more here.

Charles Laquidara checks in from Hawaii with a short comment about Mel Karmazin, who started 'BCN owner Infinity Broadcasting and then sold it to CBS.



    Free tagging: 



    By on

    Yes it is! I never listen to the station except for the occasional Pats game.

    Well there you go

    You're not alone, and occasional listening apparently doesn't pay the bills.

    Yeah.. the 60's through the 80's..

    ...but then consultants and misguided market research killed music on FM. As far as I'm concerned, WBCN had been long gone. All we have left to lose are the call letters. So be it.

    And while MP3 players, streaming stations and sirius-xm have expanded playlists, commercial radio has clamped down to the mere ten most annoying songs on Earth. It's a suicide move. It sort of makes me wonder why all the consultants out there are pushing stations off a cliff...motive or blind stupidity?

    I hate sports radio, but only when I'm with someone who forces me to listen to it, like in the car. Otherwise, I don't care whether it exists or not. If they saturate the market or fail against WEEI, it's their own stupid fault.

    The beginning of the end

    By on


    The beginning of the end started over 30 years ago. Consultants, playlists, etc. It isn't at all clear what else they could have done to avoid this fate, though. Music doesn't seem to matter as much to people as it used to.

    No surprise here. Rock is

    No surprise here. Rock is dead as a major popular music - has been for years. With American Idol pulling down big ratings, we've gone back to the 1950s pre-rock era. BCN has been the home of angry white suburban teen boys for years, and it's a relatively small niche. Let's face it - WBCN today is/was like a radio station playing swing music during the 1960s. Dad's music.

    Let me get this straight...

    By on

    Your counter-argument to NotWhitey's rock is dead pronouncement is to point out that a couple of video games outsold all kinds of music downloads?

    Uh, yeah

    By on

    A "couple of video games" which are wholly based on people wanting to rock out on ROCK songs.

    Have you even looked at the songs people are buying? The GAME isn't what's outselling the music downloads, it's the PLAYABLE MUSIC TRACK that's outselling music downloads....and it's not just playable ROCK music tracks that are beating out ROCK music's playable ROCK music tracks that are beating out ALL music downloads!

    If rock is dead and we're regressing to pop schlock as he claims, then why are pop music downloads getting the shit kicked out of them by a pair of ROCK music games? Why did Steve Van Zandt say "in the history of rock 'n' roll, Rock Band may just turn out to be up there with the rise of FM radio, CDs or MTV". That's large praise by a legend of rock for "a couple of video games".

    So, maybe you should learn what you're talking about before you belittle it.

    I also have to disagree here

    I teach in a school where you'd expect Reggaeton and Hip Hop to rule, but you won't believe how many kids are really into rock. They learn about it on the internet, older relatives etc.. There hasn't been real rock on the commercial side of radio in years. For what should be a youth-driven market, they sure are ignoring youth. Most of my students would rather the expansive playlists of their iPods on shuffle over the same few songs on repeat every hour with commercials.

    I think WBCN has been stuck

    By on

    I think WBCN has been stuck playing "rock" of the late 90s and never really moved on. The genre has continued to evolve and the "alternative rock" (the more "indy" sound) popular on competitor WFNX seems to have moved closer to mainstream and WBCN never really updated it's programing to match demand. Does anyone have access to ratings info to back that up?

    Oh no!

    By on

    Now where will I lisren to maintream alternative, Opie and Anthony ripoffs and poorly produced Patriots commentary?

    So 'BCN is going away

    So 'BCN is going away completely?

    WEEI needs some competition in this market seeing as they have the sports talk market cornered.


    They have crushed any sort of competition that has ever tried to compete. ESPN radio (890) has some good national shows, but the local sports (and news) on WEEI dominates the radio market. Many stations have tried sports formats but have been crushed.

    I wouldn't listen to ESPN

    I wouldn't listen to ESPN radio if you paid me, but it seemed as if many complained that 890 had signal strength issues.

    I know those that have attempted to challenge the WEEI empire have so far failed, but it doesn't mean that the format can't be successful if done right. Certainly being on FM is a start, I hate 'EEI for their AM signal. I can't listen to day Sox games at work because it won't come in.

    I think thats what keeps

    I think thats what keeps 96.9 in business. While I have been told the AM talk radio stations are better 96.9 comes in on my radio and the others do not. As they say in the real estate biz it is location location location.

    I really hope

    By on

    that they can find enough knuckle-dragging neanderthal uber-conservative ex-jocks to fill up all the timeslots! We certainly wouldn't want to be having our politics force-fed to us any other way, now would we? Isn't that what sports radio is all about?

    So, are we sure the original tweet is accurate?

    That CBS press release says nothing at all about WBCN going away. It just announces "Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub".

    Also, what does this mean at the bottom of the press release?

    Boston (WBZ-FM*)
    *pending call letter change

    Anyone surprised?

    Corporate ownership does it again. They took over local TV stations and now was have bubble-gum news coverage. They took over radio stations and now we have playlists determined by corporate suites 3,000 miles away. Aside from tuning in in the mornings, most of my 'radio' listening is internet radio where I can hear an actual variety of songs. Honestly, reading this headline, my firs thought was "'BCN is still on the air?".

    I'm curious why 98.5 would move, when their call letters are such a part of their identity...

    Clearly WAAf has won. I know

    By on

    Clearly WAAf has won. I know as soon as I could hear them in Boston, when they got that second frequency, I switched over from WBCN

    WAAF- Lots of music!
    WBCN- Idiots that dont shut up!

    Not only that, but WAAF has a much broader set of rock. I dont think Apocalyptica ever made it to WBCN for example.

    I alternate between WAAF and 92.9 because I like music on my radio.

    As for the 98.5 switch....well, I know 104.1 has better reception in my area, so thats good I guess. At work, every friday night is 80s night thanks to the nice people over at 98.5 (back to the 80s friday night with joe cortez)

    I believe that Boston has a 3rd rock station...101.1? I know I see their ads in the phoenix but always forget to check them out. how are they doing?

    Nothing stays the same...

    By on

    I was among those who first listened to WBCN back in the time when listening to FM radio was almost subversive. It was really a breath of fresh air at the time and had a long run and a great time being popular and innovative.

    It's sad to seem them go, but I haven't listened to them in many years. We of that generation have moved on, but for whatever reason I guess WBCN wasn't able to attract a large audience of younger people.

    Strangely enough Matty in the morning is still on after something like 30 years. I will admit to listening to him sometimes. You have to give him credit. He is entertaining and seems to attract an audience that spans a huge age range.



    By on

    WBCN ("Boston Concert Network," I believe) was Boston's only full-time classical station until it switched to rock in about 1968. At the time, listeners and at least one national magazine deplored this cultural declension.

    But it gets worse ....

    'BCN was the soundtrack of

    By on

    'BCN was the soundtrack of my life for so many years. (whimper)
    But it has not been what is was back in the day/decade for a long time. When they got rid of Jeff Turton's Sunday morning jazz show recently due to finances I wondered how much longer it would be around.

    I Stopped Listening...

    By on

    ... around the time Maxanne Sartori left. She was a brilliant DJ, always willing to go beyond the expected with deep album cuts and/or the breaking of new acts not necessarily hyped by the record companies. The entire mindset at 'BCN was different then, of course. Now? As someone else said, we're not losing much more than the call letters.


    What's that about a dead horse?

    By on

    It took this long? 'BCN used to be a great station.
    Over the years, it's become something I can't even listen to anymore. Fratboy mentality, lame stupid jokes. It hurt to listen.
    I'm glad they've stuck a fork in this one.

    Frequency swap?

    I don't get it. What's the advantage to moving WBMX away from its "MIX-98.5" frequency, moving a second station TO that frequency, and giving the second station a new format? The second station might not keep any of its listeners, as it switches from rock to sports, but presumably WBMX would keep all ITS listeners if it stayed where it was.

    Is 98.5's transmitter more powerful, or the band less congested, or something like that?

    Ive never understood it but

    By on

    Ive never understood it but corporate radio does it all the time.

    Many years ago (5ish) in Miami, the owner (forgot who) killed the dance station (93.1) and made it a rock station. The same day they killed their rock station and made it a spanish language station.

    So essentially, the moved the rock station.

    the view point of one child of rock

    By on

    i own probably about 1000cds, 5 guitars, 2 amps, several other instruments, listen to fm radio for about 2 hours a day while cooking dinner and cleaning, have lived in boston for over half a decade, and.....

    i've never listened to a single minute of WBCN. I recognize the call letters, maybe from advertisements, i don't know, but i certainly didn't know the frequency of it. My radio has rarely gone above 91, and when it has it has never stayed longer than half a song or so.

    in my experience 91+ is commercial, boring, predictable, trite. The audio equivalent of local news, and i'd be willing to bet that i am not an outlier. It would be interesting to know how many recent (post internet-news-boom, say, 2004 or later) non-natives who have migrated from areas outside of the boston media market actually watch the local news or listen to local commercial radio. Probably changes by neighborhood too, when i get zipcars in cambridge or jp they are typically sub-91, north end or back bay typically over 91.

    You sound like someone who

    You sound like someone who really gets into their music... Yeah WBCN was not for you. Commercial stations are for people like me who are just looking for music to drive and walk too etc.

    No big deal

    By on

    I understand the historical significance of BCN going kaput, but don't you all have Bush, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam cds/mp3s you can listen to on your own time? The format was done. Everyone will get over this in a week.

    BCN died a long time ago

    Coming from a guy who had listened to BCN since the beginning....

    I wrote them off sometime in the mid-90's when, instead of playing music at night, they decided to play Howard Stern's taped morning show. Huh????

    I used to judge how late for work I was by where I heard mattress mishagos(?), which was just before 10. If I was driving to work and heard it, I was merely late. If I was still at home with a 30-minute commute ahead of me, I was late. ;-)

    I really liked some of the stuuf they'd do when sports teams were doing well and in the playoffs, mostly the Celts and the Sox. The song parodies were great and got me psyched for the games.