Responding to our call for “Radio Raves,” readers eager to extol the virtues of their favorite radio stations overwhelmed our in-box. Air America Radio (although it’s not actually a station) was extremely popular (a “life raft” to one reader), as was any station that carried Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, the most often cited program. Many readers rely on NPR for insuring their sanity in these trying times, but others find it “too mainstream.” College stations and independent volunteer-staffed stations were high on many lists. –The Editors
The best station is Bridgeport’s WPKN, of course. It’s truly independent–no college affiliation, no NPR or PRI, no corporate underwriting, just community support. The free spirit of college radio but with mature production values. Eclectic music selection that’s both broad and deep. A strong social conscience. Oh, yes, they carry RadioNation.
I live on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. My favorite is split between NHPR (more talk-radio like Diane Rehm and more BBC) and VPR (Vermont news interspersed with All Things Considered, etc., some BBC and great jazz).
WEOS, Geneva, New York. In retirement, I find the NPR talk shows are a way to keep on learning and stave off Alzheimer’s. WEOS brings me Democracy Now!, Fresh Air, Alternative Radio, Free Speech Radio, RadioNation, Talk of the Nation and Plato’s Cave (local show).
KXCI (91.3) in Tucson broadcasts Democracy Now! every day at 3, followed by Jim Hightower. It’s nice to hear such humor after Amy’s broadcast. If I had to listen to NPR drivel all day long, I’d just lay down and die.
WFMT (98.7) in Chicago, with its classical/orchestral programming and live-read advertising, is a calm sea of tranquillity in an insane world. Have you ever “needed” a string quartet like some “need” a drink after a long day at the office? I’ll take the quartet!
KALW, the public station of the San Francisco Unified School District, is not afraid to air programs that may provoke the community; it has not succumbed to “commercializing” public radio; it remains accountable to and committed to serving the community. It airs Laura Flanders, Tavis Smiley, Philosophy Talks, As It Happens from the CBC and monthly feedback from listeners. It doesn’t run from controversy. This is what public radio was and should be.
I’m a listener, member and volunteer at KFAI-FM (90.3 and 106.7), Fresh Air Radio, Minneapolis and St. Paul. It engages more than 300 volunteers, held together by a paid staff of only six! It is available seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day on the dial, online or via satellite. For International Women’s Day it broadcast twenty-four hours of programs of, for and by women.
KALW offers a comfortable listening experience that is well tuned to the San Francisco aesthetic. Excellent homegrown programming like Invisible Ink, along with funky locally focused features like daily school lunch menu reports, make for a welcoming feeling whenever the dial is on 91.7.
Reality Radio–WZBC (90.3), Newton–is brought to you by investigative reporters who do not work for the President and his gang but answer to a higher power: the Constitution, the American people and truth and justice. Noncorporate news is available in the Boston area at WZBC, which broadcasts from Boston College and features music and a host of programming not cleared by the ministry of homeland propaganda. Witness, Democracy Now! and Sounds of Dissent.
NINA LYDIA OLFF
At 100 watts of free-form, fuel-injected fury, Radio CPR (97.5; www.radiocpr.com) is the only reason to turn on the receiver in Washington, DC. Homegrown go-go and Scandinavian death metal own Wednesday nights, while punk, roots reggae and community news workout the frequency on other nights.
WORT (89.9) listener-sponsored community radio in Madison is a long-lived example of a flourishing independent media outlet that struggles to serve us all. On its narrow band and budget, it provides programming about politics, music, health and general welfare unlike any other. WORT is the best example of conscientious media. It’s owned by everybody.
WPVM is my favorite because of its progressive content and music that isn’t blatantly mainstream. It is a low-power FM station that strives to inform the community in an objective way. WPVM is the best radio station in Western North Carolina!
KSER (90.7) in Everett has only one full-time manager and more than 100 volunteers. It provides an exceptional and diverse radio experience. I listen daily to commercial-free music, news and other programming (including RadioNation).
Our community station, KBOO-FM, dares to say things one doesn’t normally hear and lets diversity and dialogue have a forum, with a schedule. It’s peopled mostly by volunteers, and the variety reflects all of us. There are hits and misses, sort of like live TV was once upon a time. The opportunity to hear many different perspectives and people who bring experiences from the full spectrum of life and trust that we the people can make up our own minds without the slick and slimy spin of commercial radio and TV, is nothing short of miraculous.
I nominate Radio France International because it gives important news from across the globe and puts analysis and content above being showy to attract audiences. There is an English and a French version, and there are no commercials, also a big plus.
San Antonio, Tex.
I jotted this down while driving on I-10 from Fort Stockton to San Antonio (and steering with my knee):
I’m on I-10, nearing home
After 500 miles of West Texas oil fields
(And 500 miles of radio static).
Truckers are gearing down,
Pulling the long hill out of Junction.
Passing them, the first glow of civilization
Crackles through the night:
Townes’s “White Freightliner Blues,”
From Fredericksburg’s KFAN
Is an epiphany.
Your Call, on KALW, is a very important isle of enlightenment in the wasteland that is American Media (I threw away my television shortly after 9/11, so you can be sure I am a radio fan).
Our local hate-and-bait radio station isn’t worth spitting on. KGO, San Francisco, is a strong station by day for California, carries at night through all of the West Coast, north and south, Alaska to Mexico at least, and by Internet worldwide.
New York City
WBAI (99.5), despite being amateurish and harping on race issues, provides info no other station or network dares. Democracy Now! is the best thing on radio. Also Michio Kaku, Doug Henwood, Mimi Rosenberg et al.
My all-time favorite is Air America on KLSD-AM (1360) in San Diego. I am regaining my sanity and faith in my fellow Americans. Thank God for progressive talk-radio. I’m rejuvenated daily! And am so grateful!
La Crosse, Wisc.
The Rock (95.7) in La Crosse plays current hard rock and heavy metal, which I love. It also has DJs who are really fun to talk to!
The most loved station anywhere is WMNF (88.5) in Tampa, Florida. We left years ago but still listen on the Internet. WMNF rafts Tampa’s growing progressive community together amid the flood of flaming illiterate bigots. Marathon goals are always exceeded, and 70 percent of pledges return in a week, because it inspires such passionate affection!
PETER WYLIE and CARIN HOUCK-WYLIE
My favorite radio station hands-down is KPFA (91.7) out of Berkeley.
JUAN PEDRO GAFFNEY
KNAU (88.7), operated by Northern Arizona University, is the only station in all of Arizona north of Phoenix that has classical music–the only one I ever listen to, consequently.
H. DAVID HAMMOND
I have been a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; www.cbc.ca) listener, exclusively, for the past twenty-five years. It kept me sane and well informed through the 1980s–the years of the “Smiling Illusionist.” As It Happens, Ideas, The World at Six and so many other programs–listen and you can feel your IQ rise!
WRPI, the student and volunteer-run station operating under the auspices of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has the courage to broadcast Democracy Now! Area broadcasters, nonstudent, nonprofessional but with a decided interest in social justice and civil rights, also avail themselves of the opportunity to disseminate crucial information and ideas through the cooperation of both the station and the college. Although we do have a local affiliate of NPR in this area–WAMC–with considerable broadcasting wattage and finances, and this station does air Alternative Radio once a week, by and large its programming lacks the provocative edge that makes WRPI valuable as an alternative to what the mainstream media is today.
New York City
Advanced age and limited mobility have their compensations. I can listen to WNYC-AM in New York City from 6 AM to 6 PM. A wide range of topics is explored in depth by remarkably well-prepared interviewers who ask challenging questions but are never rude. An added attraction is spontaneous, relevant, sophisticated humor.
BEATRICE G. ROSENBAUM