Whenever I travel, inevitably, sooner or later, I have a little leisure time that I spend listening to local broadcast radio. Sometimes it’s in the car, driving around. Sometimes it’s listening on a portable radio, Walkman-style.
I rarely travel far without my MP3 player and a collection of music in it, but it’s still fun to listen to the local FM music scenes. My current MP3 player has a FM radio built-in. Not much of a consideration when I bought it, but I’m glad it’s there.
Why would I want to listen to the radio when I have my own selection of music at hand? I’ll answer that question with another: Why do some people seem to be stuck in the era they grew up in? Why do they go to bars and listen to cover bands and never try new music?
Because they know what they like and stop looking for anything else. They get stagnant in their music.
I like to find that one station in any area that caters to the new, the off-beat, the different. It’s not always easy to find, but when you do, you find a different experience than you get listening to the same old thing.
It isn’t easy to find such stations, either. They are typically local independent or public stations. The majority of radio stations in every market throughout the US all sound alike. Most of them are owned by three or four big companies. Do you realize that the majority of FM radio stations in Buffalo belong to two companies? Everywhere you go they all sound the same because the same people run them. They play the same playlists. They follow the same formats. They even run the same satellite-fed programming.
So I really enjoy the rare station that breaks the mold. When I do, I remember them and thanks to the internet, often can hear them back home. Here’s some examples from my limited travels.
The Point (Vermont) I first discovered this station on one of my trips skiing in Vermont. It’s always interesting eclectic music selection set it apart from the usual right away. It’s an independent radio network of several transmitters that cover much of Vermont. They’re based in Montpelier, but I remember listening to them at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire on a subsequent trip. I was happy to find they can be heard on the web at http://www.pointfm.com/
WBER (Rochester) In my somewhat regular trips to Rochester, I discovered an interesting station run by Monroe County BOCES. They are staffed by both students ans community volunteers and broadcast over Rochester and it’s suburbs. It’s what you would expect of a student-run station, lots of new and obscure music as well as a strong local music representation. Calling itself “The Only Station That Matters,” in Rochester, it is. http://wber.monroe.edu/
WYEP Pittsburgh I found this station recently while I was there. It’s a public station, but cooler than the usual NPR outlet. They have a wide array of programming for any taste. http://www.wyep.org/
Radio Paradise Sometimes, an internet radio station doesn’t need a terrestrial transmitter. Radio Paradise has been my favorite online radio station since I got broadband, and I’ve heard of a lot of them. RP is the only one I keep going back to. Run by a radio industry insider who got tired of the formulaic programming, it’s one of the most successful internet radio broadcasters. http://www.radioparadise.com/