Phoenix sold WFNX for $14.5 million, papers show

Phoenix Media/Communications Group, publisher of the Boston Phoenix, is selling alternative rock station WFNX 101.7 FM for $14.5 million, according to documents released Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission, which must approve the sale.

Stephen M. Mindich, Phoenix Media publisher and chief executive, revealed in a blog post last week that the station was being sold to the giant radio chain Clear Channel Communications Inc., based in San Antonio, Texas.

According to the filings, the purchase includes the station’s signal, but not the call letters and “intellectual property.” That means that the Phoenix could relaunch WFNX, possibly online — a route followed by the venerable Boston rock station WBCN, which left the airwaves in 2009.


Most WFNX staffers were laid off, Phoenix Group executive editor Peter Kadzis said last week.

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Phoenix Media declined to comment on the sale. Clear Channel did not respond to calls for comment.

Founded in 1983, WFNX, which is located in Lynn, was one of the last independent radio stations in the Boston market, but Mindich indicated that the station could no longer survive on its own. “For some time, it has been difficult to sustain the station — especially since the start of the Great Recession,” he wrote in his statement.

Phoenix Media runs weekly newspapers in Boston, Providence, and Portland, Maine, and the Boston magazine Stuff, along with associated websites.

Scott Fybush, editor of NorthEast Radio Watch, an industry news website, said the price is in the range of WGBH’s 2009 purchase of the classical music station WCRB-FM for $14 million.


“At the peak of the market, in the early 2000s, ’FNX might have commanded $25 million to $30 million,” Fybush said. “But $14 million sounds about right in today’s climate.”

Mark Fratrik, an analyst with media research and consulting firm BIA/Kelsey, which is based in Chantilly, Va., said the sale price was “reasonable, maybe a little high,” reflecting the confidence Clear Channel has that it can make money by folding the station into the company. “People criticize large radio chains like Clear Channel, but they have very good resources that can grow revenue,” Fratrik said.

WFNX will remain on the air while the sale process runs its course.