Thursday, February 6, 2020

Radio is the Sound Salvation

TL;DR: many streaming radio stations mostly run by humans with no ads! All streams in a playlist here: radio_streams.m3u KALX Berkeley KZSU Stanford
KFJC Foothill College WMBR Boston KXSF-LP SF Community Radio
NTS 1 London NTS 2 Los Angeles NTS Memory Lane
WQXR New Sounds WKCR Columbia University WFMU
Mutiny Radio Radio Valencia dublab

I've spent some time curating my streaming radio playlist, so I thought I'd share it. Extracting the streaming URLs from some of these sites it a little tedious, so happy to save others the trouble. Most of these stations are free-form meaning you can find any genre you like, but I've added some notes about some shows I listen to regularly -- mostly rock with long excursions into jazz, techno, and experimental. I credit streaming radio for discovering some great new and new-to-me music that I would likely not have run into on the usual streaming platforms. To listen to these streams, I use Music Player Daemon on my vintage-aesthetic music player.

NB: Stream URLs are subject to change, if they don't work, look at the station web page. The broadcast stations tend to have multiple streaming formats and rates available, if those work better for you. In contrast, the web stations don't usually link their streaming URLs, but you can usually find them using the web inspection tools in your browser. This can be a pain, so I'm sharing them here!

  • (stream: Local favorite in the Mission District, feels like kind of like an old friend at this point. Props to @quonky and @theguestaround, for building a radio station from scratch! Notable shows: Sleeves on Hearts Fridays noon-3PM; Saturday 9AM is B-Side Dreams by Jaime B-Side "mood pop and lo-fi;" Sunday 10-midnight is Sub Dwellers, out-there jazz and prog in the mode of Sun Ra. DJ Sammo does am admirable job keeping it both far out and listenable, which can be tricky!

  • KALX Berkeley: (stream: ) Notable shows by Sex 14s (say it out loud) on Wednesday mornings and the exquisitely tasteful @matokie on various Sunday afternoons. Because they don't stream metadata, playlist is here:

  • KZSU Stanford: (stream: A rolling mix of student and staff DJs and the Zookeeper, robot playlist of decent indie rock. At one time this station was amusingly full of high-BPM techno, no doubt a side-effect of Adderall, but that phase seems to have passed.

  • KFJC Foothill College (stream: Long-time DJ-run station: some jocks have been there for decades. Notable shows are Zero Gravity doing garage rock and freakbeat from 9-midnight on Saturday, and Dangerous Dan with droney rock and blues on 9-noon on Sundays. A minor beef is that KFJC seems eternally to be playing Merzbow at tender moments (like when I am hungover) but thank F that someone is playing Merzbow.

  • WMBR (stream: Ah MIT Basement Radio! I have a soft spot for this Boston station as I was actually on it sometime in the 80s with a short-lived band. Fortunately no tapes survive. Notable show: Aural Fixation on Saturday afternoon: loud rock with that Q-Division Beantown sound.

  • KXSF-LP SF Community Radio (stream: This was the formerly glorious KUSF, a punk rock station run out of University of San Francisco, until one sad morning when the USF administration decided to pull the plug (literally -- I was listening when the station went unexpectedly off the air). It took the radio crew several years to regroup but fortunately they did as low-power broadcaster KXSF-LP. Notable is Carolyn, doing a punk rock set on Tuesday afternoons, and Mawkish Twaddle on Saturday nights: power-pop gems new and old. Listen to it in podcast format here! Bonus points to KXSF for adorable kid DJs on the weekends, who nonetheless have pretty sophisticated taste!

  • NTS 1 London (stream), NTS 2 Los Angeles (stream) Sister stations, even though streaming from opposite sides of the planet. Relatively new to me, and obviously run by the music-obsessed, they seem to feature monthly programs of an hour or two. I notice mostly dance from techno to hip-hop, and micro-genres thereof, and this being England you can expect deep soul cuts of soul and even disco. Perfect Sound Forever is a show that has been notably excellent. A special deliciousness comes from the London station, yielding fine examples of Estuary English and the ability to listen to late-night music at the precisely wrong time of day. (Just discovered while researching this post: they have "endless mixtapes" robot channels too:

  • WQXR New Sounds (stream: This is its own distcint yet nameless genre of new music. Not quite classical, but Laurie Anderson. You'll hear John Adams (both of them lol), ├ôlafur Arnalds, Steve Reich, that kind of thing, which is nice alternative to pop and the tired classical warhorses. There was recently some hoo-hah about the stream being canceled, but I think there was enough of a protest that it is safe for now.

  • WKCR, Columbia University (stream: Some essential jazz here, especially Jazz Profiles on Sunday afternoons. Scores highly on my unscientific jazz metric which is the Ornette/fusion ratio. Also on Sunday evenings is Indian Carnatic music which is lovely.

  • WFMU (stream: Ah the weird and wonderful WFMU, home of gems like 79 Versions of Popcorn. Favorite show is Pseu's Thing With a Hook, perhaps the best-named pop rock show of all time. Minor beef: WFMU DJs seem contractually obligated to ramble on for interminable stretches of time without actually playing music?

  • SomaFM Space Station ( OK so this one's a robot but SomaFM is SF local, ad-free, and they are ace, I listen to Space Station as ambient background music, but SomaFM has dozens of other channels from ambient to exotica to country. Did I mention they are ad-free? Donate.

  • Mutiny Radio (stream: This hyperlocal station arose from the ashes of Pirate Cat Radio, an honest-to-dog pirate station, after too much drama to go into. They have happily reconsitituted and now taken a pivot into comedy, but they still manage to rock out.

  • Radio Valencia (stream: Scrappy local station, they've been bouncing around as they lose subsequent studios to gentrification. Hopfully they stay on the air.

  • KCMP The Current (stream: Yes, Minnesota Public Radio all the way from chilly Minneapolis! Fairly normcore alt rock, but I listen because me old china and bandmate Jim McGuinn is program director. His show "Teenage Kicks" is on early Saturdays and features the good stuff from the '80s.

  • dublab (stream: Another web-only station from LA. Very hip assortment of up-to-date sounds including hip-hop and various microgenres. A sugar-free yet guilty pleasure is Bubblegum & Other Delights

  • KXLU Los Angeles (stream: One of the few remaining indie broadcast stations in LA, a good mix of rock, Latinx, and experimental.

Tagged: music



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