By David Beard, Globe Staff
"We're throwing down because we're going down.''
That was the theme of the fourth and final day of pioneering rock station WBCN's farewell to 104.1 on Boston's FM dial.
The last few days have been an education from a station that began 41 years ago as a radical part-time offshoot of the staid Boston Concert Network channel and defined free-form FM programming from 1968 through the 1980s.
The morning's programming featured Steve Nelson, a manager of the legendary Boston Tea Party, where WBCN broadcast its first hour of rock programming in 1968. The venue, which once hosted The Who, Led Zeppelin, and crowd favorites The Velvet Underground, was a part of the emerging rock audience in a city overrun with college students and ready for new music.
The morning show played songs dedicated to rock's rebellious spirit, such as Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll'' and the Police's "I Can't Stand Losing You.'' It also had an air of resignation, playing the last track on the latest CD by Bob Dylan, "It's All Good.''
On Tuesday night, as the station marched to its signoff, 'BCN played Argent's ''Hold Your Head Up'' and Blue Oyster Cult's ''Don't Fear The Reaper'' -- the heavy cowbell version.
In the minutes before midnight, with a final word -- "Peace'' -- the music played, and Eric Clapton's guitar soloed on Cream's "I Feel Free.'' Following it, Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond,'' with its lyric:
"Well you've worn out your welcome with random precision...
''Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!''
And shortly after that, in the first minutes of Wednesday, nothing but static. By morning, the station was pop station Mix 104.
The free-form 'BCN will survive, starting Thursday, on 100.7 HD3 (100.7-3); a version of 'BCN outgoing format will be programmed on 98.5 HD2 (or 98.5-2 for those with an HD radio). Few are under any illusions, even with HD radio giveaways, that the stations will achieve broad popularity.
CBS Radio pulled the plug on 'BCN as part of a switch that will move the pop station to its place on the dial and launch the new Sports Hub to 98.5 on the FM dial.
A final note: "Little Bill'' Lichtenstein, a former 'BCN announcer, is making a documentary entitled "The American Revolution'' about the station's early years, and he filmed its last days. For those with station memories, check out www.WBCNthefilm.com.