"The Rock of Boston" WBCN Falls Victim to Rock Radio Decline

July 16, 2009 10:18 AM ET

For the third time this year, an iconic rock radio station in a major city is shifting formats: Boston's 104.1 WBCN, "The Rock of Boston," will leave the airwaves on August 13th. The rock station had been broadcasting for 41 years. According to Billboard.biz, WBCN was a victim of CBS Radio's desire to launch an all-sports talk radio station on the FM dial. The company's Adult Top 40 Mix station will make the jump from 98.5 to 104.1, with the sports station taking over at 98.5. WBCN will live on off the radio waves as a Web and HD-radio broadcast.

The Boston rock radio market still has BCN competitors like WAAF and alternative station WFNX. WBCN had been broadcasting New England Patriots games since 1995, however it maintained a reputation as the city's leading big rock-radio brand. New York's biggest rock station, 92.3 K-Rock, shifted into the Top 40 WNOW in March, and it's clear a pattern is developing — radio companies are following the music industry trends: While CD sales are plummeting, digital singles are on the rise, making a Top 40 format more appealing to advertisers because it attracts listeners in the target demographic. Rock fans have largely turned to satellite radio, the Web and Net broadcasts of rock radio stations in other cities in response. Just today, Internet radio station WOXY.com announced a new move to Austin, where it will be broadcasting live from the Austin Theater.

Like K-Rock, WBCN also suffered a massive drop in ratings when Howard Stern made the move to satellite radio. As Rock Daily reported in January, Los Angeles' Indie 103, named the nation's best radio station by Rolling Stone, was the first victim of the recent purge on rock radio. "Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge," reps for Indie 103 said in a statement after revealing they were leaving the airwaves. The frequency has since been replaced by El Gato, a Regional Mexican format.

Related Stories:
New York Loses Biggest Rock Radio Station (Again): K-Rock Shifts to Top 40
Los Angeles Rock Station Indie 103 Going Web-Only, Quits "Corporate Radio Game"
Best Radio Station: Indie 103

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »