At 7 p.m. tonight, Boston’s popular alternative radio station, WFNX, will be shut down. The station, previously owned by Phoenix Media, was sold to Clear Channel earlier this year, putting hipsters and indie lovers (was that repetitive?) in a frenzy.
But I’m not here to talk about who will take over the 101.7 slot (a Spanish talk show, I heard, which is useless because everyone knows I only speak Spanglish at best) or how the closing represents the end to quality music (which cannot be said as long as Adele is still pumping out tunes). What intrigues me the most about this situation is WFNX’s announcement to stay live…on the internet, at least.
I don’t know about you but I only listen to the radio in the following places: in the car, in the shower and in the kitchen whenever I feel brave enough to cook, which is not very often. With the advent of self-designed music streaming networks like Pandora or Spotify, online radio stations are declining in popularity. I mean, why listen to “Pumped Up Kicks” 40 times a day when you can create your own playlist? In the same strand, as smartphones and other portable music players dominate the world of technology, “car plugs” that allow drivers to stream their own music library through their car speakers are replacing radio altogether. (I mean, why wait for Call Me Maybe to come on when you can play it at the touch of a button? It just makes sense.)
All of this begs the question: Will people make the effort to listen to an online stream or will fans flock to another radio station that proves more convenient? Does the future of music lie in Pandora-like companies or will loyalty to classic radio stations keep audiences tuning in to hear their favorite personalities and songs? And lastly, will this shift from original platforms to the interwebs reach other parts of society? Will TV shows be released exclusively online as well as movies, plays, cartoons, etc.?
Or am I blowing all of this out of proportion?