Legendary program director Kurt St. Thomas returns as executive producer of the new WFNX.com
Kurt St. Thomas, the award-winning filmmaker, author, music producer, and program director who presided over WFNX's most exciting and successful years, is returning to take charge of the Phoenix's revamped online streaming radio station WFNX.com. [Listen live here]
Kurt is a legend not only here at the Phoenix and WFNX but in the radio world at large -- and his exploits have taken him far further afield than the narrow confines of broadcast. After he left WFNX in 1995, he went on to work for Clive Davis at Arista Records. He was the independent producer and director of two feature films and many, many music videos. In 2008 he launched his own online streaming radio station, Houndstooth Radio. Most recently he's been the on-air sidekick and producer to Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones on the world-famous KROQ.
While at WFNX, from 1987 to 1995, Kurt presided over a stretch of magical occurrences. He fell in love with an unknown Seattle band called Nirvana after hearing their 1990 debut Bleach and, meeting the band backstage at Man Ray in Cambridge later that year, began badgering both the station and the band's label to bring them back to Boston -- even before Nevermind was completed. St. Thomas broadcast the world-premiere of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on WFNX in August of 1991 and booked them to play WFNX's birthday party the night before Nevermind's release. Nirvana was far from the only band the station broke under St. Thomas's guidance -- but his long friendship with the band and its contemporaries came to define the format that he helped transform from an obscure afterthought on the radio dial into a rebirth of modern rock. When Nirvana quit doing radio interviews, they commissioned St. Thomas to record a long conversation -- later released as Nevermind: It's an Interview -- that remains one of the band's definitive oral histories, and led to St. Thomas's book on the band, Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. In 1994, it was St. Thomas who booked Green Day for a free, all-ages WFNX concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston -- and it was also St. Thomas who was smoking a joint backstage with the band when Massachusetts state troopers stormed in and demanded he go tell the audience of 100,000 rabid fans to take three steps back.
Kurt is not just a link to WFNX's strongest heritage -- he's also the perfect person to lead us into the future. Over the past few weeks I've gotten a chance to renew my friendship with Kurt, who I knew when I first started at the Phoenix in 1993, and who has been extraordinarily gracious with his time and effort over the years. His excitement and enthusiasm for new music is as strong today as it was 25 years ago: over beers last week, we both simultaneously jumped out of our skin when the Japandroids record came on the Bukowski's stereo. As we speak, he's loading scads of new music into WFNX's library to begin the process of remaking the station once again.
Next week we'll be announcing the rest of the team that will be relaunching WFNX in the fall -- yes, with live DJs (and at least one DJ who . . . well, you'll just have to wait and listen). As I've spoken with Kurt over countless hours these past few weeks, we've often talked about the similarities between the WFNX of 1987 and the WFNX.com of now -- the enormous opportunity to reshape a moribund format into something shockingly new and different. A few nights ago, with the new WFNX finally gathered under one roof, I was looking around the table at a dozen of the smartest and most passionate music fans I know. We were laughing harder than we've laughed in years. I have seen WFNX's future, and it isn't hung up on the past or beholden to what anyone thinks we're supposed to be. It's a station that asks only one question and asks you to answer it with us: What's fucking next?
Here's the text of the press release that's going out to the media today.
August 16, 2012 (Boston, MA) – Today, Stephen Mindich, Chairman of The Phoenix Media/Communications Group, one of New England’s largest, independently owned multi-media companies, makes an announcement that is indicative of the ground-breaking future direction in which WFNX will be heading. Effective immediately, Kurt St. Thomas, a highly regarded creative and cutting-edge force in the music and entertainment industries and a former Program Director of WFNX-FM, will return to the station as the Executive Producer of WFNX.com. The announcement begins to reveal how the new WFNX on-line Radio Stream will both draw from its unique legacy, while, in the tradition of that legacy it pushes the boundaries made possible in this new and exciting phase in the on-line sphere.
St. Thomas spent a formative 8 years of his impressive 25-year career in the world of music at WFNX. From 1987-1995, he was Program, Music and Production Director for the station and laid down such historical tracks as being the first in the country to play Nirvana, producing Nevermind It’s An Interview – the band’s only officially released interview CD, and booking Green Day to play a WFNX concert event many months before the band emerged as super-stars and which resulted in Green Day’s notorious and unforgettable 1994 performance at the Hatch Shell on Boston’s Esplanade.
"I'm excited to return to the station as a leader who can maintain and evolve WFNX’s role as a groundbreaking platform for bands, both locally and worldwide. This is the ultimate opportunity to create a futuristic radio station that is uniquely combined with the rich heritage of one of the country's most successful alternative rock stations. Online is a progressive space for music right now - free of FCC supervision, we will be able to provide unfiltered, uncensored content that exceeds listeners’ expectations," St. Thomas says of his new position. He is already engaged in bringing together a talented team of familiar and new disc jockeys and music experts for the station.
Kurt St. Thomas: is an award-winning radio, music and film professional who has 25 years of experience in the music and entertainment industries. After spending 8 years as the creatively progressive Program, Music and Production Director with WFNX-FM from 1987-1995, St. Thomas then moved on to work for Clive Davis at Arista Records where he was Senior Director of A&R. In 2001, he became Senior Director of A&R for Tommy Boy Music. He also penned Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects (St. Martins Press; 2004), which captures the band’s meteoric rise and the subsequent fall of Kurt Cobain while giving readers insight into the band’s music influences. After years of working for record companies, St. Thomas returned to the world of broadcast radio at Los Angeles’s top-rated KROQ where he is an on-air talent and produces the free-form radio show Jonesy’s Jukebox with Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols. He is also an innovator in the online radio world for his popular alternative stream, Houndstooth Radio.
WFNX is known as one of the most cutting-edge Alternative music stations in the country where for nearly 30 years ardent fans turned to find the best in local and national new music and artists. In May of 2012, it was announced that Clear Channel Communications had purchased the broadcast license for WFNX’s 101.7 FM frequency from MCC Broadcasting Company, Inc. a part of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Though ceasing terrestrial broadcasting on July 24th, 2012 WFNX has continued to reach its listeners through its on-line radio stream at www.wfnx.com and www.thephoenix.com, as well as with its mobile app, available for downloading at http://bit.ly/WFNX_Mobile.
The Phoenix Media/Communications Group (PM/CG) is a leading independently owned regional media company. The group recently announced with much excitement that its flagship Alternative Weekly newspaper the Boston Phoenix will merge with its bi-weekly lifestyle sister publication Stuff Magazine into a single, newly designed, weekly glossy magazine on September 21st 2012. In addition to the Boston Phoenix and Stuff Magazine, the PM/CG publishes the Providence Phoenix, and the Portland Phoenix (Maine). Each of these award winning weekly newspapers -- the largest in their markets – cover politics, arts and entertainment, and a diverse range of lifestyle issues. The PM/CG maintains a substantial online presence with its multiple web sites thephoenix.com, stuffboston.com, portlandphoenix.com, and providencephoenix.com, each of which provide users with a host unique content, numerous blogs, and special alerts and all are supported by social media. Additionally, the PM/CG streams its legendary alternative rock radio station, WFNX, online at WFNX.com. The PM/CG also publishes the official yearbooks for the Boston Celtics and the Boston Marathon. Rounding out the PM/CG holdings is Mass Web Printing Company, a full service commercial printer based in Auburn, MA, masswebprinting.com.