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 The frequency has since been replaced by El Gato, a Regional Mexican format.