Be Adrift on Your Radio

Mid-July 2021

Generationally speaking, I’m less inclined than younger people to ramble on about myself. It’s not as though I don’t have a head full of thoughts containing the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ just like everybody else. It’s more that such thoughts bore even me, so why should I subject anyone else to them?

Still, I find myself hopelessly adrift this rainy summer in America’s northeast. I can’t blame the 7 inches or so of rain since the beginning of the month. I can’t blame much at all. So I’ll have to sit with this a while and see.

In the meantime, I need a soundtrack and even the onsite Mac-based jukebox seems to not be up to the task. My craving for the unfamiliar has never been greater and I’m not especially picky. An unexpected segue delights me as much as a song I’ve never heard before. About the only thing that is a requirement is some form of human intervention, even if it’s limited to shaping the playlist.

So if you’re inclined to take a spin around the world’s entire dial, here are a few spots you might want to check out or even support. (Did I mention I hate commercials? Not a terribly good ad guy, am I?)

WXPN 88.5 FM, Philadelphia, PA

I think I’ve been listening to WXPN for as long as I’ve been driving towards Philadelphia for business. It’s always been a little bit harder-edged than the New York market’s WFUV. I attribute that difference in large part to the long-time dominant personalities of each station. In any case, you’ll hear the old and new here so something likable is bound to show up sooner or later.

Radio Paradise, Somewhere in Western North America

A pioneer in internet radio, Radio Paradise is improbably operated by a husband and wife duo who must never sleep. I say that because just about the time I’d developed a more coherent explanation of their operation, a CD-skipped and set me back to zero. In some ways similar to WXPN, RP offers two alternate streams besides the main mix so you can rock or mellow out.

WMVY 88.7FM, West Tisbury, MA

My college roommate, who played a large part in expanding my listening horizons, grew up on the Vineyard. I recall him making terrible fun of the local station which played “hits of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s” as I recall. So it was as a goof I tuned in and discovered a station that sounds like the beach, improbable as that may seem. I have to be in the mood, but when I am, it works.

WMRW- LP 95.1 FM Warren, VT

Unlike every other station listed here, WMRW is a true community station by which I mean it’s not nearly as slick-sounding as the others. There’s a good reason:  the on-air staff are just folks with particular passions living in the Mad River valley.  In a way, it serves a similar function as WMVY for me. In late summer and throughout the fall, WMRW sounds like the Vermont countryside, and sometimes that’s what I most need

WEMU 89.1 FM, Ypsilanti, MI

I am probably the only business traveler whose first task upon arriving in town is figuring out the best radio station. I discovered WEMU when I started traveling to Dearborn regularly for business and cemented my love for the station during a 36-hour coffee bar/focus group extravaganza in next-door Ann Arbor. A great station with impassioned staff who answer their own email! Michael Jewett in the afternoon is a favorite.

WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans, LA

All great music eventually passes through New York, but when it comes to originating it, New Orleans has to be near, if not at, the top of the list. Nothing picks me up more than tuning in to the Crescent City and hearing the glorious musical stew that bubbles over the digital airwaves. Jazz, blues, R&B, Zydeco, it’s all here with a groove as unmistakable as the city’s own. When digital beignets become possible I may take up residence. In the meantime, the weather forecast is interchangeable with ours, except for those Seattle-like days we seem to get every week.

If you have your own favorite station you think I should check out, leave the call letters or URL in the comments section.

Happy listening.


One thought on “Be Adrift on Your Radio

  1. A great round up. I would simply add an awesome radio station KWMR, improbably located in the,foggy, mysterious Point Reyes peninsula north of San Francisco, Where, driving at night down dusty dark roads deep in the country, it was turned onto some French artists in the 1960s that I had never even heard of.

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