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Rock of Boston to cease rocking on the FM dial: WBCN goes digital-only in August

Posted by Sarah Rodman  July 14, 2009 12:57 PM

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CBS Radio announced today that the station now known as Mix 98.5 (WBMX) will become "98.5 The Sports Hub" on August 13. The new call letters will be WBZ-FM and will feature a mix of sports talk and play-by-play programming. The morning drive time slot will be occupied by the Toucher and Rich show from WBCN.

WBMX's current "'80s-'90s-now" Hot AC format will be moving to 104.1 on the dial with its programming and personalities intact and will be renamed Mix 104. Which means that on August 12, WBCN, "the Rock of Boston," will cease to exist on the FM airwaves after 41 years.

WBCN may be going to that big mattress in the sky, but according to the CBS press release, it will continue to exist online at (And on 98.5 HD 2 for people with HD radio receivers). We're checking right now to see what that means in terms of music and deejays and if this means the end of the Rumble as well.

The "Sound Effects" team will have more on this in tomorrow's Globe and hopefully an update in this space later today.

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38 comments so far...
  1. Well times are changing WOW

    Posted by Al Russell July 14, 09 02:21 PM
  1. WHAT!?!?!?!?!?

    Posted by Kathleen July 14, 09 02:47 PM
  1. 'BCN played great progressive and classic rock music for decades (I started listening in the early '70s). Best station of its kind on the air! They sponsored some GREAT concerts too! And it's being replaced by a station called "Mix"!? Sad! Corporate radio wins again!

    Posted by Myakka Brad July 14, 09 02:48 PM
  1. You can get an HD car adapter for $35 at works OK but has problems near tall buildings and hills because HD is only allowed to go out at 1% of the analog signal

    Posted by Qwijibo July 14, 09 02:49 PM
  1. Who cares? Do people actually still listen to regular radio anymore? How antique of you all. LOL!

    Posted by SiriusXM July 14, 09 02:50 PM
  1. That's silly......

    Posted by no July 14, 09 02:51 PM
  1. This makes me yearn for the summer days of my teen years listening to Charles, Billy West and the gang...although I haven't listened for years, I still think of WBCN as my radio station. I will miss you!

    Posted by Tim Kilroy July 14, 09 02:51 PM
  1. Absolutely terrible news! Just moved to Charleston SC and the thing I miss most about Boston is WBCN. Grew up in outside of Boston and listened to Howard Stern on WBCN as a kid and enjoyed the Toucher and Rich show into my thirties. Good combination of music and entertaining talk which is intelligent yet obscene and crude at times. Very bummed out to find this out , as there is no radio as good anywhere in the country.

    Posted by Sam Duff July 14, 09 02:54 PM
  1. very sad day.. BCN is a great radio staiton and still is. It was sad when Chuck left and then Stern.. I really think this is a bad move. BCN is an instituion in Boston...

    Posted by Paul from Wellesley July 14, 09 03:04 PM
  1. Yet another demise in the world of terestrial radio. See ya 'BCN it sure was fun.

    Does my Sirius radio look so dumb now, five years later?

    Posted by bentbob July 14, 09 03:10 PM
  1. How many more sports talk shows can we stand?...and I love all Boston sports..but this is getting silly. Are any of them making money? Corporate interests rule as usual.

    Posted by Joe July 14, 09 03:29 PM
  1. RIP WBCN. Your days were numbered anyway, after the corporatization of radio. Peter Wolf and Charles Laquidara (especially Charles) made the station- the masses broke it. Good luck in the online-only format. Remember to treat your few remaining DJs right and give them more freedom.

    Posted by WBCN July 14, 09 03:31 PM
  1. Where the Pats going?

    Posted by Patsfan July 14, 09 03:46 PM
  1. The only think I don't understand... why not keep Mix 98.5 at 98.5 and make The Sports Hub 104.1?

    Posted by Edward Doyle July 14, 09 03:53 PM
  1. I'm not sure that CBS can hang on to the WBCN call letters by putting them on the internets or an HD signal. Somebody somewhere could just go to the FCC and apply for 'WBCN' and CBS couldn't do anything about it.

    Posted by Laurence Glavin July 14, 09 03:58 PM
  1. Hey, maybe there's actually a reason to get an HD radio now.

    Posted by Mike July 14, 09 04:05 PM
  1. Happy to see "The Mix" dying, unhappy to see BCN dying. Maybe now that there's only one music station left in Boston Mindich will buy a transmitter.

    Posted by Targy July 14, 09 04:14 PM
  1. This has to be HUGE news for 101.7 WFNX...which we don't get down south of Boston. and 95.5 WBRU...except on Sundays. But when you play the same music since 1992, there needs to be change. It's just too bad that change wasn't a new era of good music.

    98.5 might be a nice change of pace, actually getting to listen to sports and sports discussion rather than be subjected to the Jason Wolfe NeoCon Army over at 850AM and 103.7 FM.
    Sure beats listening to a station that uses its call letters...every single time.."Mix98-5LanderintheMorning. Now for some more c-ckrock, with some more generic crap from bands that rip off crap from crappy bands like NickleCreed! Tell my mother, tell my father I've done the best I cannnn!!!!"
    ByeBye douchies!

    Posted by Brian July 14, 09 04:14 PM
  1. HELLO?!?!?!?! Where is Toucher & Rich in this shuffle.?
    They are, by far, the BEST MORNING SHOW IN BOSTON!!!!

    Posted by Sarah July 14, 09 04:24 PM
  1. Will Gino Cappelletti still do the Patriots games? I know that Gil Santos retired so I'm wondering who will broadcast the Pats.

    Posted by mullendrums July 14, 09 04:31 PM
  1. FML

    Posted by BCN fan July 14, 09 05:29 PM
  1. I'm from Boston. Born at St. E's in 1964. News like this just makes me feel older and older. I remember the REAL Kenmore sq. back in the day, do you? Storyville, The Rat, Spit..Missipisssippis. This is sad. I remember WCOZ?? I was in the army in 1981 and remember seeing some grafitti in a troop transport truck in Ft. Benning GA, ya know what it said?WBCN Rock of Boston, it made me feel great and like I wasn't that far from home. It seems like no matter how long something has been around or what it might mean to people familiarity wise, it's meaningless compared to the bottom $$. Young people don't know this feeling yet, but I think they will. Maybe things will never last long enough for young people to feel loss anymore? Things changed when I was younger but I don't remember
    feeling like the carpet was pulled out from underneath me. That's a common feeling today I think .

    Posted by Greg July 14, 09 06:43 PM
  1. who listens to radio anymore?

    Posted by nathan July 14, 09 07:50 PM
  1. Oh, what a bummer. I started to listen to WBCN around 1980. I was actually invited to play mishagots with Charles in Dec 1990 with my two month old baby for bringing in the most items to donate to Carter Allen as he lived in at trailor truck at the Watertown Arsenol. I gat an autographed Roger Clemmens balls and a gift certificate for Elizabeth Grady, too which I still use. I stopped listening when they bought on Howard Stern. I love the fact that my kids now listen to WBCN. I smile and listen along. Thank you WBCN for all the memories.

    Posted by Sheryl Scipione July 14, 09 08:24 PM
  1. What a truly sad day for Boston and all of rock as far as I am concerned. BCN was pivotal to turning Boston into the rock town it was and still is today. The Who, The Fools, The Bags, J. Geils, U2, The Clash, Human Sexual Response.... the list is immense and wonderful! They were the alternative for so many years and helped educate many of us.....the students of rock. I am so glad BCN was part of my life here in Boston!

    Posted by Scott July 14, 09 09:00 PM
  1. When they let Lander go, it was obvious that things were in a serious decline. Will obviously have to find a different station for that button in my car.

    Posted by Michele July 14, 09 09:48 PM
  1. I don't think this is a smart move!!!!!!!! I have listened to WBCN "The Rock of Boston" my whole life and just as I am moving back to the city and excited to listen to my favorite station, you are changing programming. Who ever thought of this was not very intelligent. You will lose lots and lots of loyal listeners, and your numbers will fall fast and furious. I quess WAAF will have to be the new " Rock of Boston" for me.

    Posted by Loyal Fan July 14, 09 10:25 PM
  1. Judging from lack of comments, I'm guessing noone cares.

    Posted by Rich July 14, 09 10:42 PM
  1. That's wonderful. There aren't enough sports talk shows on AM and Sirius/XM, so let's fill up the FM dial with utter babble.

    Posted by Richard July 14, 09 10:50 PM
  1. I don't have any concrete info, but I can't see WBCN having disk jockeys. The digital audience will be so small, it won't make any economic sense. The station will probably just be an automated jukebox.

    Posted by Dan Zee July 15, 09 12:00 AM
  1. Music radio is in a death spiral that started with consolidations in the '90s. Ratings and revenues are down. iPods, HD, internet are better and more customizable options for people. Hey, I loved Duane Ingalls Glasscock, too. But those good ol' day are over and music radio is so...twentieth century.

    Posted by Red Decker July 15, 09 07:27 AM
  1. So will they still call the Pats games on BCN and also can we get them to call Sox games because the AM signal sucks in my town and I would really like to listen to Sox games on the radio.

    Posted by langerloksh July 15, 09 10:57 AM
  1. Oh and by the way, I feel for those of you for whom BCN was "your" station back in the day. I went through the same thing when FNX went from being, for real, the coolest radio station in the country in the early 1990s to suck suck SUUUUUUUUcking. It was like I lost my best friend.

    Posted by langerloksh July 15, 09 10:58 AM
  1. I moved to Atlanta a few years ago and missed BCN and good rock and roll so much i had family tape countless hours of BCN off the radio and mail the tapes to me. That enabled me to hear BCN for the 4 years I lived in Atlanta. When I moved back to Boston, I was very happy to begin hearing live BCN again. Yes, things have changed over the years and BCN was not as good as the early days, but it was still the best Rock station in Boston.

    Out of all the Boston radio stations, BCN was the only one to introduce new talent. You can have your IPods. But where will you hear new bands to put on your iPods? People talk about BCN playing the same things over and over again. Just how do you think IPods work? You have to hear a new band to put them on the Ipod. Where are you going to hear the new bands now?

    I have listened to BCN since the first day in March 1968, all my entire adult life. It has become a part of my life. I love rock and roll. This death of BCN has affected me much more than the death of MJ a few weeks ago. I even had wild dreams last night about it.

    Posted by FlyingT July 15, 09 11:39 AM
  1. The writing has been on the wall for WBCN for some time - as one poster said, HD, satellite and the iPod have all had a hand in the demise of music on terrestrial radio. 'BCN has seemed pretty rudderless in all or most of of it, too.

    Like it or not, talk - be it political commentary, comedy or sports - is what brings listeners over to old-school radio these days, the corporate assumption is that you will just have to find your own outlet now for music.

    The bummer for all of us now is that new bands have even less of a chance to be heard than they did back in the day, and for that, we're going to be sorry - the same corporations are going to be telling us what we should be listening to . . . but then, they have been for some time now.

    Posted by just sayin' July 15, 09 12:04 PM
  1. I see no mention of the Steven Clean and Lisa Carlin. two great djs. What ever happened to them, they just disappeared.

    Posted by Used to listen to BCN July 22, 09 06:06 AM
  1. What a bummer- things have really changed!! WBCN represented Boston for so many years - it's DJ's cant be replaced! BCN was part of my growing up and my late brothers life as well- he knew the members of JGeils band......blah blah blah...Im all for progress, but cant anything worthwhile stay the same. The Globe, BCN,records-i'm not sure the new lack of real communication and good rock music will prove to be good for future generations-we'll see/

    Posted by sjd August 11, 09 04:03 PM
  1. too bad, looks like the big boys win again. I made the switch to xm /sirus radio several years ago and haven't been disappointed. you lose the local flavor ,but the choices are out of this world...detachment, with the local stuff is a must

    Posted by tom schramm August 11, 09 05:04 PM

About Sound Effects

The latest news, commentary, and reviews on music in Boston and beyond.


Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.

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