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Online radio stations worth streaming, downloading

By: Chris Jones, Contributing Writer

Now that almost every radio station streams online, not only are you able to take your favorite stations wherever you go, you can listen to those stations from anywhere in the world. You can catch up on sports radio for 24-hour Tim Tebow coverage or savor the latest Gregorian chanting, if you so wish.

Radio stations are a great way to find new music. Yes, automated services like Pandora exist, but trusting services like these are like trusting automated streets lights — sooner or later, they’re going to fail you. There are some great DJs out there who spend tedious hours rifling through vinyl crates in record stores looking for music. Don’t get this confused with radio personalities on corporate pop stations who have little control over the station playlist and blabber about Lindsey Lohan’s latest criminal missteps.

I searched for new music stations via Web searches and the TuneIn radio app. TuneIn is just one of the many radio apps on smartphones that allow you to search and play thousands of stations. You can even pause and record radio shows. With so many online stations being readily available, there is no genre that goes untouched.

After spending a month listening to many stations, I ranked the stations by moving them up on my presets. Each station listed is free of charge and commercial free. Here are the top four presets:


Station: KCMP – The Current (NPR Affiliate)
Where: Northfield, Minn.
Format: Adult album alternative
Signal Strength: 97,600 watts

If you’re looking for newer music, the Current has it. The Current is a significant choice if you like Sirius XMU and don’t want to pay the fee. Don’t expect anything too cutting-edge, though. This station differs from the rest of the stations on this list by having a more approachable taste, which is tailored for the pop/rock niche. However, this is beneficial to someone who wants jams for his party without worrying about some super obscure experimental song freaking out his guests.



Station: KEXP (NPR Affiliate)
Where: Seattle
Format: Alternative Rock, Eclectic
Signal Strength: 4,700 watts

With bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Seattle is no stranger to groundbreaking new artists. KEXP plays indie alternative but also has several hours of shows dedicated to mixes of genres like Latin, world, hip-hop and American blues.


Station: KCRW (NPR Affiliate)
Where: Santa Monica, Calif.
Format: Public radio with eclectic music
Signal Strength: Varies, multiple repeaters throughout the area.

Since 1977, KCRW has hosted Morning Becomes Eclectic, which the East Coasters may refer to as “afternoon becomes eclectic.” This show features new music daily and live in-studio concerts weekly. DJs pick what they want to play on this eclectic station. One of the DJs, Anne Litt, has a light mix on Saturdays and plays everything and anything from the ‘60s on. KCRW also has a second online station, a 24-hour music station, which plays hand-picked music from each of the station’s DJs.


Station: WFMU
Where: Jersey City, N.J.
Format: Freeform
Signal Strength: Varies, multiple repeaters throughout the area.

What can I say? WFMU is one brave station when it comes to music. The DJs are very liberal when it comes to the term “freeform” – more like free for all. You will either love it or hate it, judging by your first listen. And if you like it, your friends will hate it, but they are probably the ones who like your music five years down the road. Most people who make this city their new home would say Jacksonville station programing is not WFMU’s forte. However, I know some teenage girls who would love to disagree.

Email Chris Jones at [email protected].


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