The Boston Radio Dial: WEDX(FM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Lynn
Frequency: 101.7 MHz
Class: A
Ownership: AMFM Radio Licenses, LLC
(Clear Channel Communications)
Studio: 10 Cabot St., Suite 302
Medford, MA 02155-5173
Transmitter: One Financial Center
Boston, MA 02111-2621
Format: Electronic dance music
Web site: evolution1017.com

Technical Parameters

WEDX transmits at 101.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 1.7 kW (analogue) from a directional, circularly-polarized antenna 191 meters (627 feet) above average terrain (208 m above sea level), atop the One Financial Center office building in Boston's Dewey Square. The antenna is a custom two-bay Shively, model 6810-2D-SS-DA.

Station History

The history of FM on the North Shore begins just after World War II, with the 1946 grant of a construction permit for WESX-FM Salem on 105.5 as a sister station to WESX (1230 Salem). WESX-FM was never built.

The next North Shore FM entry came on August 1, 1961, when Harvey Sheldon put WUPY (105.3 Lynn) on the air, playing jazz music.

WUPY ran 1.4 kW from a transmitter site off Route 1 in Peabody and studios at 23 Central Avenue in Lynn. Its main claim to fame during its short life was as one of the first Boston-area FM stations to broadcast in multiplex stereo. After a brief silent period, Sheldon changed the station's calls to WUPI, but that, too, was short-lived, and 105.3 was silent by the time the next North Shore FM made its debut.

On August 1, 1963, Puritan Broadcasting Service Inc. put WLYN-FM (101.7 Lynn) on the air. Unlike the failed WUPY/WUPI, WLYN-FM had the support of an AM sister station, WLYN (1360), whose programming it simulcast during daylight hours. WLYN-FM started out 1 kW at 175 feet (later increased to 3 kW/170 ft) from the AM 1360 tower off Route 107. Both stations' studios were at 156 Broad Street in Lynn.

By the mid-seventies, WLYN-FM was simulcasting its AM sister only during morning and afternoon drive, with the midday and evening hours filled with leased-time ethnic programming. In 1981, WLYN-FM began playing “new wave” music at night, which evolved into a full-time modern rock format the next year under the nickname “Y102”.

In late 1982, Puritan sold WLYN-FM to Stephen Mindich (doing business as “MCC Broadcasting”), owner of the weekly Boston Phoenix, the city's alternative newspaper, and on April 11, 1983, 101.7 was reborn as WFNX, “Boston Phoenix Radio”. While the precise nature of its modern rock playlist would undergo many tweaks, swinging back and forth from indie rock to grunge to more-accessible modern pop, its target audience closely matched the newspaper's: Boston's large population of college students and recent graduates.

While WFNX's studios remained co-located with WLYN (by then at 25 Exchange Street in Lynn, the station began to market itself to the larger Boston market. It established sales offices at the Phoenix headquarters in Boston's Fenway neighborhood, and soon moved its transmitter from the WLYN tower to the former WEEI-FM/WBZ-TV tower above Malden Hospital, just across the Medford line. With 3 kW from 385 feet above average terrain at that site, WFNX was able to reach a larger portion of the Boston market, though it continued to have trouble reaching into Boston proper and the South Shore.

In the late nineties, WFNX expanded its reach by purchasing additional stations to simulcast its “FNX Radio Network”. In March 1999, Mindich paid $1.02 million for WCDQ (92.1 Sanford, Maine) and its sister AM WSME (1220), flipping WCDQ to WPHX-FM. (The AM signal became WPHX(AM), programming talk and later sports.)

Later in 1999, Mindich (by then doing business as “Phoenix Media Communications Group”) paid $1.5 million for the former WNHQ (92.1 Peterborough, N.H.), rechristening the station WFEX in March 2000. In March 2000, Mindich purchased WWRX (103.7 Westerly, R.I.) from Clear Channel, keeping its calls but converting it to a Providence-market outlet for the “FNX Radio Network” on September 7, 2000. WWRX split most of its programming from the network in 2003, originating its own modern rock format from studios in Providence and Lynn, but in early 2004, Mindich sold the station to Entercom for $14.5 million, and it became sports outlet WEEI-FM (now WVEI-FM).

The rest of the FNX network continued to operate from the Lynn studios, where it launched the careers of well-known Boston air talent such as “Tai” (Thomas Irwin) and Nik Carter. WFNX's Boston signal was improved somewhat with the addition of a translator, W267AI (101.3), atop the John Hancock Center, and then improved significantly in 2006 with the move of the main WFNX transmitter from Medford to Boston's One Financial Center, at which time W267AI was deleted.

To promote the new signal, WFNX eliminated all of its regular commercial load between Memorial Day and Independence Day in 2006, instead selling all its airtime to Snapple in a deal valued at $2 million.

Mindich sold WPHX/WPHX-FM in Maine in 2011. Hampered by the financial decline of his flagship Boston Phoenix, Mindich put his remaining broadcast licenses, including WFNX, up for sale in 2012. On May 16, 2012, Clear Channel announced it was purchasing the 101.7 license assets for a price later revealed to be $14.5 million. In an unusual feat of secrecy, the new 101.7 format was not disclosed until the deal closed on July 20. Mindich had dismissed most of the WFNX airstaff when the sale was announced, leaving a skeleton crew on hand to sign the station off with “Let's Go to Bed” by The Cure, the song that had launched WFNX in 1983. After several days of automation, Clear Channel took over the station on July 24, 2012, relaunching it with automated adult hits as “101.7 the Harbor”, WHBA, resurrecting the format Entercom had abandoned in 2011 when it flipped WMKK to sports as WEEI-FM.

Mindich vowed to keep the “WFNX” identity alive as a stream, hiring a young airstaff and operating a revived WFNX.com from the Phoenix's Back Bay offices beginning in August 2012. That stream was silenced after Mindich, still facing financial woes, shuttered the Phoenix itself in March 2013.

While Clear Channel used some of its outdoor assets to promote the new adult hits format on 101.7, it proved to be only a placeholder. On December 20, 2012, WHBA relaunched with electronic dance music as “Evolution 101.7”, picking up a format Clear Channel had developed on its iHeartRadio streaming service. The callsign was changed to WEDX on January 2, 2013. In its first year of operation, WEDX was largely automated, carrying a syndicated nightly dance show hosted by Clear Channel's Pete Tong and some out-of-market voicetracking.

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This station profile was written by the editors of The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. We have no relationship with the station; please send any comments or questions about their programming directly to the station. Network connectivity courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

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