156 Good Radio Stations

My radio station links project is finally complete…well, as complete as any Web page can ever be finished especially one dedicated to the extremely volatile world of North American radio.  The final number of stations came in at 156…not that there aren’t more elsewhere around the world but that’s what I came up with that fit the standards I set for this project.  But, basically…yeah, there are only about 156 good radio stations left.

That number might sound like a lot and seem even larger if one goes through the table I created without narrowing it down or organizing it in some manner.  On the other hand, consider how many cities and towns there are just in the English-speaking parts of North America, each one deserving of its own voice and sound.  Then consider that even the smallest radio markets have five or ten frequencies allocated to them and…well, suddenly, 156 doesn’t seem like a lot.

However, let’s say there are another 156 good radio stations out there that do not have a website or a stream, have a poor-sounding stream I rejected, or that I simply missed even though I tried as hard as possible to be extremely thorough especially once I realized that I was only going to end up with stations in the United States of America and Canada.  That’s still only 312 good radio stations.  Fill up the frequencies allocated to the greater New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago markets with those good stations and there would pretty much be none left for anybody else.  Thus, even 312 would not be a lot of “good” radio stations in the grand scheme of things in countries as large and diverse as the United States and Canada.

Now, don’t misunderstand me about what I mean by “good” even though I did avoid formats that I do not care for such as hip-hop, adult contemporary, and some others.  “Good” is as much independence of some sort as it is the music that is being played.  Yeah, I like “classic rock” (for one example) but it’s not really “good” if they have a limited playlist and, most importantly, don’t interact and reflect the local community in any significant manner.  So, while I might listen to and generally tolerate K-TURD while driving through Bumfuck, Arizona, it’s not necessarily “good” and certainly not worth going out of one’s way to listen to over the Internet when there are so many other choices including Shoutcast, Pandora, and one’s own mp3 collection.  This is especially true if the fictional K-TURD is being programmed from some far away city or even pumping in its music from afar and using voice-tracking instead of having somebody in the actual station itself selecting and playing it.

Of course, no station is perfect and never has been no matter how much many of us might pine for the old days of the favorite radio frequencies of our youth.  There are some that made my list that are controlled by big corporations, use automation at night (even non-commercial stations), and run programming from sources outside of the station.  Still, each one on my list had something special enough about it to warrant inclusion — maybe a station special only to me such as a couple I listed in the Sacramento market where I went to junior high and high school or just something to offer a little variety in a certain format in case the first one somebody chooses is not to their liking.

Whatever the real number of “good” radio stations remaining in North America truly is, they are a relative precious few and always under constant pressure to sell out in one way or another.  This is true of even the college stations that are more and more becoming corrupted by the influence of record companies that want to create a buzz on campuses all over the country for whatever fabricated “alternative” group they have decided to push down everybody’s throats.

So…enjoy the list and all of these stations while they last.  It will change over time.  Stations will be added as I discover them and others will be dropped when they change formats or begin to suck.  This number of 156 is by no means set in concrete anywhere other than within this particular entry because it is the starting point…not to mention that 156 is not even fully correct as seven of them are currently Internet-only stations.

Just about everything else one might need to know about the list (with a little general information thrown in for those outside of North America) is up at the beginning of the Radio page which will always be linked at the top anywhere within this site as well as in my general radio links section in the right-hand navigation bar.


2 thoughts on “156 Good Radio Stations

  1. Unbelievable! This is quite the collection of stations. I just sampled a few and think you’ve done a brilliant job in putting this together. This is going to come in real handy when I’m stuck in some godforesaken place with just an internet connection.

    Question: is there only 1 radio station that plays reggae in North America?

    1. Your praise is highly appreciated, my friend!

      In North America overall, there are definitely other over-the-air stations that play reggae as their full-time format — certainly in Jamaica as well as through other islands in the Caribbean. I did look for such stations but the ones I had bookmarked in my browser before beginning this project seemed to have all changed formats. When I looked for new ones on every single island out there (plus on the mainland), they either had no stream available or were of such poor audio quality that I felt they were not worth putting on my list. This is a big part of how my list unintentionally stuck with only the USA and Canada. I will certainly add such stations in the future if they are of good quality but, for this opening version of the list, only KNUQ is reggae full-time with fellow Hawai’ian station KWXX playing a mix of native and reggae tunes.

      That being said, plenty of reggae can be found on the many “college/variety,” “community/variety,” and “pirate/variety” stations in the list. Since even the more open-minded “adult alternative” stations barely play but a few Bob Marley & the Wailers hits, reggae shows are a staple of almost every such non-commercial station in both the US and Canada as it is a greatly under-served market. The problem is that it can take a little patience to find them as such shows only last for one to four hours before another disk jockey comes in to play something completely different. While you will have to hunt and peck on your own (especially with the college stations that change their schedule every semester), one recommendation I can give to you is KISL in Avalon, California out on Catalina Island. While they do not play reggae 24/7, they do seem to have much more of it than other similar non-commercial “variety” stations. That station is in the list but here’s the link for your easy reference:


      How ironic I would get to my computer and see you ask this question. Just a few minutes ago I was packing up my old t-shirts for my upcoming move and spending a little time reminiscing in my mind about you and your brother as I folded up my Bunny Wailer shirt from his show we all saw together at that gymnasium in Toronto. Remember that guy who talked just like Bob & Doug McKenzie that wanted to pay us five or ten bucks just for one hit off of our joint! :-D

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