Music  |  Lists

The 40 Best Little Radio Stations in the U.S.

September 23, 2010  |  7:00am
1,001 WATTS TO 5,000 WATTS

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WXYC 89.3 FM
Chapel Hill, N.C.
1,100 Watts
wxyc.org
The Tar Heel-run station was credited with the first Internet radio broadcast when they went online in November 1994. They haven’t stopped streaming their eclectic playlist since then.

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WFMU 91.1 FM
East Orange, N.J.
1,250 Watts
wfmu.org
WFMU’s free-form philosophy is its governing principal; giving free reign to its DJs is its raison d’être. It’s the longest-running free-form station in the country and has been called the best in the nation by Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, CMJ and the New York Press. When I tuned in, it was to a rambling discussion about the origin of the phrase “a shaggy dog story.” Fortunately a listener straightened them out.

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WYMS 88.9 FM Radio Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisc.
1,450 Watts
radiomilwaukee.org
“Diverse Music for a Diverse City.” That diversity begins with indie rock and extends to a variety of genres.

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WLCA 89.9 FM
Godfrey, Ill.
1,500 Watts
wlcafm.com
Operated by the students of Lewis and Clark College, WLCA reaches into north St. Louis with its college blend. Reader Kyle Cunningham says, “It plays everything from classic indie like The Pixies and The Smiths to today’s indie, punk, ska and alternative. It’s an epic station.”

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WFHB 91.3 FM
Bloomington, Ind.
1,600 Watts
wfhb.org
WFHB got its start in the ‘70s when some local radio enthusiasts attended the National Alternative Radio Konference in Madison, Wisc. For a quarter century they’ve kept that enthusiasm for music alive, particularly when it comes to bands on Bloomington’s fantastic Secretly Canadian label.

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WQFS 90.9 FM
Greensboro, N.C.
1,900 Watts
guilford.edu/wqfs
Guilford College insists that WQFS is “Your Only Alternative.” You could be stuck with worse than shows like “Monkey Wrench Radio” and “The Old Country Store.”

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WAPS 91.3 The Summit
Akron, Ohio
2,000 Watts
913thesummit.com
Paste reader Sheila Francis says: “Great format and programming. They have an amazing in-house Audio Technica studio where members are invited to private performances (I’ve been to Ingrid Michaelson & Bell X1!), incredible amount of community service and support. Paste and The Summit should at least be dating, and I’m pretty sure that shit would lead to an engagement.”

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WVMW 91.7 FM (VMFM)
Scranton, Penn.
2,000 Watts
vmfm917.org
Indie rock reigns at the voice of Marywood University. We’re pretty sure this is the only station that Dwight Schrute listens to.

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WORT 89.9 FM
Madison, Wisc.
2,000 Watts
wort-fm.org
In addition to public affairs programming and literature readings, the listener-supported community radio station plays an eclectic mix of rock, folk, jazz and bluegrass. Its current Top 5 includes Eels, Black Angels, Best Coast, Justin Townes Earle and the Posies.

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