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Friday, May 18, 2012

WFNX’s NH side, 92.1 FM, bought by Christian radio station WDER in Derry

The New Hampshire portion of Boston alt-rock radio station WFNX has been sold to Christian radio station WDER in Derry, says station owner Bill Blount.

Blount Communication announced Wednesday that it has bought WFEX, 92.1 FM, which broadcasts from a tower atop Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park. The signal will probably switch over in about two months, after FCC review.

Since 1999, the frequency had been used to rebroadcast Lynn, Mass.-based WFNX, the Boston area’s best-known independent rock station.

On Tuesday, WFNX 101.7-FM announced it was being sold to national radio giant Clear Channel Communication.

Assuming the sale gets Federal Communications Commission approval, as seems likely, Blount said in about two months the 92.1 FM signal will switch to rebroadcasting WDER, a 10,000-watt AM station, whose day contains a mix of local and syndicated Christian material.

The signal will be used to expand the station’s reach into the Monadnock region as well as onto the FM band. Blount did not disclose the price; the signal and tower had listed by an online radio-station brokerage at around $850,000.

Blount said he bought WDER around the year 2000, decades after he bought his first radio station in Rhode Island and began a broadcasting career that covers all New England states except Vermont.

WDER is now part of a network of stations in five states that he and his wife, Deborah, own called Life Changing Radio.

The network’s mission is “to use mass media to help the people of New England enter into and develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” based on the Bible as “the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God” with “supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.”

“One of the hallmarks of the Life Changing Radio stations is working with local churches and ministries to expand their outreach to the communities they serve,” Blount said in a statement. “We are thrilled we will be able to partner in this new region with churches that currently don’t have access to a broadcast facility.”

Churches, particularly Bible-centered Christian churches, have embraced radio in recent years as a relatively inexpensive way to reach people. For example, most of New Hampshire’s low-power FM stations, a category created to allow very low-cost broadcast, are licensed to churches.

Before it was bought by WFNX in 1999, the 92.1 frequency in New Hampshire had gone through many name changes and owners. It was established in the 1970s as a folk station, associated with The Folkway club in Peterborough, where TV personality Fritz Wetherbee got a start.

In later years, the station tried all-news, Top 40 and album rock formats, moving its offices to Milford at one point, before selling to WFNX.

Tuesday’s news of the WFNX sale drew dismay from New England fans of alternative music and a remembrance of high points in its history, including its role introducing Nirvana to the world and organization of the infamous Green Day concert at Boston’s Hatch Shell in 1994. The station is owned by Phoenix Group, which publishes the Boston Phoenix; a public statement from Stephen Mindich, founder of the group, said that it has become “difficult to sustain ... particularly since the start of the Great Recession.”

The other stations owned by the Blounts are AM stations WARV in Warwick, R.I., WFIF in Bridgeport, Conn., WSDK in Hartford, Conn., and WVNE in Worcester, Mass.; and FM station WBCI in Portland, Maine.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com.