R.I.P WBCN – Now Let’s Move On

A venerated radio station is going off the air next month in Boston. For over 40 years WBCN defined rock radio. The move is being made by CBS radio in part to add a sports talk station to the FM dial. This decision has created a sizeable uproar among listeners. This uproar underscores part of the issue.

Almost to a tee all the negative comments about CBS killing WBCN centers on how great they used to be in the 1970’s and 80’s and how the listeners grew up with the station. No one has talked about the relevance of WBCN today. No one is talking about how influential the current morning show is or how new acts are broken with one play from the station.

People are missing the idea of WBCN and not the reality of the station and the listener. The reaction is not different than killing any other brand. Ultimately does anyone really miss Plymouth, Oldsmobile, or the Quasar TVs? The answer is no – yet there was great distress when the brands were killed (well maybe not Quasar, but you get the idea).

If you asked 20 year old consumers about where they learn about new music it will not be from the local rock station. It will be from places like Pandora, friends’ downloaded playlists, or social networking sites. That is the direction music is following. CBS made a business decision that I think will be of benefit to the corporation and maybe provide some entertaining listening in the car and I seriously doubt any of you will be suffering from a vast empty feeling every time you hit 104.1 on your preset and not hear WBCN. It has not been what you remember it being for quite a while


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2 Responses to “R.I.P WBCN – Now Let’s Move On”

  1. McLovin Says:

    Although WBCN will be missed, the reason they are changing the format is that the quality of the station has been declining steadily as they have lost their way and abandoned their mission. Predictably, they see what EEI has done and how succe$$ful they have been. BCN is chasing the $$ and they will continue to flounder until they realize the true power and possibility of radio and come up with something captivating, local and original. The original WBCN represented something bold, exciting and very local. That will be missed. However, there is tremendous opportunity for someone else with the right vision, creativity and connection to Boston. RIP. Long Live Rock!

  2. harrycramp Says:

    I agree that BCN recently has not innovated as they had in the past – at least partially because CBS wouldn’t let them. The other issue: they had some legendary DJs, which management milked well past maturity; when it came time to replace them, they’d lost some of their demographic. BCN in the 00s could easily recover the lost market share if they were allowed to innovate.

    But that doesn’t mean that killing the station is good for CBS shareholders, who are ultimately the only demographic with clout in the decision. I personally believe that CBS would be better to sell the station – even on a different FM frequency – than kill it. The brand has strong loyalty in Boston, and the station does a lot in the local community to invest in that, so a turn around story would be compelling for a private equity investor.

    Management buyout anyone?

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