NoBo’s Best Bets: A look at our favorite Boston radio stations
By Keith Spencer
The landscape of local radio has been dramatically altered over the last five years as many Bostonians’ favorite stations switched formats, changed positions on the dial, or gone silent all together.
As the popularity of mobile music and streaming technology continues to surge, listeners may need to get used to the idea that our local dial may not exist one day all together.
For now, we thought we’d take a look at the stations we think are your best bets when it comes to setting the favorites in your vehicle.
Kiss 108FM is undoubtedly the standard-bearer for top 40 pop and hip-hop in the greater Boston area. The popularity of their headliner Matty in the Morning is incomparable, and they boast a memorable lineup of DJ’s and concerts that continue to drive listeners to tune into the Clear Channel station.
AMP 103.3FM has become a major competitor to Kiss 108 and the clear choice as our runner-up in the category. Where Top 40 represents the music most favored by Bostonians and a growing format in the market, we had to include another on our list. With both hip-hop and pop hits gracing their airwaves, the station is clearly keeping listeners AMPed up.
In the North of Boston region, WBOQ 104.9FM remains one of the few independent stations in the market is spreading its influence. North Shore 104.9 has both great music and pertinent information, offering free public service announcements while promoting local businesses and neighbors. They represent the mission at the core of NoBo Magazine: thinking and living locally. They recently moved their transmitter in order to reach an additional million people in the Boston market, and will hopefully continue to grow in popularity.
While I was among the many who mourned the loss of WFNX, I can’t lie that I have more than enjoyed it’s replacement, The Evolution. As the popularity of electronic dance music has surged with digital sales in the Boston growing, Clear Channel Communications introduced The Evolution as nation’s first EDM only station. While the dance & electronica format is certainly not for everyone, it’s satisfied my desire and demand for a spot to hear it on the dial.
The success of 98.5FM The Sports Hub isn’t surprising. Where area sports fans stretch across demographics, the station has grown in popularity considerably over the last several years. The Hub’s popularity has made them the defacto choice for Bostonian sports nuts to get their daily fix.
WAAF is one of the last rock stations to remain in the Boston market. By the mid-1980s, WAAF directed most of its attention to the Boston radio market despite its original targeting the Worcester area initially. Today, the station is simulcast on both 107.3FM and WKAF 97.7FM, mixing heavy metal, modern, and classic rock to represent a broad cross-section of the rock spectrum.
For more information, visit their website, become a fan on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Emerson College alumn, and WERS has always held a special place in my heart. This may discredit my authenticity in naming the station the Best Bet for college radio, however, The Princeton Review agrees, naming WERS the #1 college radio station in America nearly every year since they started ranking college stations. WERS stands as the first non-commercial radio station in New England, and has been in operation since November 1949. Today, the station remains student-run, professionally managed, and serves eastern New England with an eclectic mix of more than 20 different styles.
Despite a number of locations on the dial over the years, WKLB is where Bostonians go today for the best in country music. With the rise in popularity of country music nationwide, WKLB 102.5FM is poised to remain Boston’s radio station for country music variety, featuring today’s hottest artists including Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, and more.