Most of the staff at Boston alternative rock station WFNX 101.7 FM was laid off Wednesday as Stephen M. Mindich, founder of station owner Phoenix Media/Communications Group, revealed in a memo that it is being sold to radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc.
Seventeen employees were laid off, according to Phoenix Media/Communications Group executive editor Peter Kadzis. The station, which had 21 employees — 9 full-time and 12 part-time — now has three full-timers and one part timer.
WFNX, which was founded in 1983, has been one of the last independent radio stations in the Boston market, catering to a new music niche. But Mindich indicated in his memo that the ratings are no longer high enough to keep the station in business on its own.
“Despite its celebrated history, its cutting edge programming, its tradition of breaking new music, its ardent fans among listeners and advertisers, for some time it has been difficult to sustain the station — especially since the start of the Great Recession,’’ Mindich wrote in the memo. “And that is why the station is being sold.’’
According to the memo, WFNX is filing the paperwork with the Federal Communication Commission Wednesday to start the process of the transfer to Clear Channel. The station will remain on the air during the time it takes to complete the FCC process. The purchase price was not revealed.