As print media’s eulogy continues to be delivered by journalist oracles, The Boston Globe’s Boston.com website is saving a favorite area radio station. Boston.com’s plans to launch an online radio station were announced Monday, signing several key figures from WFNX, a Lynn, MA based radio station that was acquired by Clear Channel for $14.5 million in mid-May.
The WFNX fan base, of which I count myself a part, rallied behind the station following the news of its sale. The Twitter hashtag #WeAreWFNX accompanied announcements from @OccupyFNX including conversations with three of the station’s on-air personalities who will be joining Boston.com: Henry Santoro (@HenrySantoro), Julie Kramer, and Adam 12 (@AdamXII). While Clear Channel will retain the WFNX call letters with the purchase of the terrestrial signal, 101.7, The Boston Globe has once again expanded its offerings in an effort to grow its audience and revenue.
The Boston daily, owned by The New York Times Company, has made multimedia and breaking news a cornerstone of Boston.com over the years. As ad revenue flowed from the print medium, Boston.com attracted some of those dollars and formed partnerships with local organizations. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to meet with Teresa Hanafin, Boston.com’s director of user engagement and social media, and start a veterinary column called Ask an Angell Vet which still survives today. The creation of these sub-sites, including BoMoms and Pets, further engaged the site’s followers, creating popular community forums.
In September 2011, The Boston Globe, following its parent company’s lead, launched BostonGlobe.com, a pay wall version of the free Boston.com, to provide exclusive content and breaking news to subscribers while growing revenue.
The announcement that Boston.com will now host an alternative radio station once again puts the site in a position to be judged as foolish or omniscient in the months and years to come as it competes in the expanding online radio market. According to Boston.com general manager and chief advertising officer for The Boston Globe, Lisa DeSisto, the station will live on the site’s homepage and feature live programming from music to commentary and interviews.
In an interview published on Boston.com on Monday, DeSisto said the site “has been at the forefront of multimedia for some time now, producing award-winning videos, live video programming, interactive content, and more. We’ve long thought radio would be a natural extension for us, and we’re fortunate to launch with such an incredible team.”
The “team” includes a host of characters that have endured multiple shake-ups in their careers. As a spokesperson for a local nonprofit, I appeared on several broadcasts with the station’s Sandbox morning crew before they were disbanded. The show’s hosts included “Special” Ed Oliveira, Charlie Padgett, Dustin “Fletcher’’ Matthews, and new Boston.com employee Henry Santoro. On an occasion when I brought a rather large, adoptable Pit Bull named Frankie to the station, it was matter of moments before “Special” Ed was lured away from his microphone to roll around with the hefty pooch during the breaks. After hearing of the news of the sale of the station, “Special” Ed reminisced that “A day with a dog in the studio was always a good day.” I would also see Henry on several occasions as he hosted various charity events, giving back to his community.
While it will take time to fully appreciate the genius or folly of Boston.com’s recent moves, fans are taking to Facebook and Twitter to rejoice at the news that WFNX will continue in spirit. In the end, the personalities will survive and they are the heart of the station, not the signal.
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