A public radio station based in the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle, Washington, the brilliant KEXP specializes mainly in alternative and independent rock.
The station’s excellent in-studio sessions and interviews have become its main selling point, with the likes of Spoon, Low, The Walkmen and The Shins performing memorable mini-gigs there.
KEXP also hosts weekly programs covering a diverse range of musical genres, including blues, world music, hip hop, electronica and alternative country. It is affiliated with the University of Washington and available to stream live over the internet at its website.
Frequency: 90.3 FM
Serving: Seattle (and worldwide via online HD channel)
Like Seattle’s KEXP, Los Angeles-based public radio station KCRW is renowned for its in studio sessions. Indeed, many now big name musicians (including Beck, Massive Attack and Coldplay) have made their U.S. live radio bow on the show.
Many of these performances – and those of established bands debuting new music on the Morning Becomes Eclectic show – have been shared in full HD on the station’s YouTube in recent years.
The NPR affiliated station, which broadcasts from the campus of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, prides itself on giving a platform to up and coming artists, and the music is handpicked by a pool of DJs who know their stuff.
KCRW also puts on live events in Southern California, including the World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, which began in 2002.
Frequency: 89.9 FM
Serving: Los Angeles
The listener-supported, non-commercial WFMU has been labelled “the best radio station in the U.S.” by Rolling Stone and The Village Voice in the past, and the longest running freeform radio station in America continues to go from strength to strength.
Broadcasting at 91.1 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and New York City at 91.9 FM,WFMU’s programming is controlled by individual DJs not beholden to any station-wide playlist or rotation schedule. As a result, WFMU’s broadcasting brings spontaneity, little-heard music across numerous genres (including rock ‘n’ roll, experimental, R&B, gospel, punk electronica), features and interviews and plenty of humor.
The station maintains an extensive online presence, including live audio streaming, over 17 years of audio archives, podcasts and a popular written blog.
Frequency: 91.1 FM (New York) and 90.1 FM (New Jersey)
Serving: New York And New Jersey
BBC Radio 6 Music
Launched in 2002, BBC Radio 6 Music is now comfortably one of the British Broadcasting Corporations’s flagship radio stations.
The digital station boasts that it “brings together the cutting edge music of today, the iconic and groundbreaking music of the past 40 years and unlimited access to the BBC’s wonderful music archive,” and this blueprint has made it one of the most listened to digital-only stations across Europe.
6 Music’s roster of DJs – which have included the likes of ex-Fall guitarist Mark Riley, Elbow singer Guy Garvey and even Iggy Pop on occasion – are said to be given total control over what music to play, and in that sense the station has been viewed by many as a continuation of the legacy of the popular late DJ John Peel.
Indeed, 6 Music has been know to dip into the BBC archives to play notable “Peel Sessions” that the DJ put on from the 1960s until his sudden death in 2004.
The station is not specifically dedicated to alternative rock – with jazz, reggae and folk to name but three genres also regularly played – but it does constitute a considerable chunk of its output. Since 2014 6 Music has put on a Festival that has been held in different cities around the UK and broadcast live on the station.
Serving: United Kingdom
Portland, Oregon’s excellent XRAY.FM has its fingers firmly on the pulse of the Rose city’s renowned underground music scene, and its mission is to bring those sounds to a local and global audience.
The station was formed via a crowdfunding campaign back in 2012, and the programming is a seamless blend of talk and music for perfect the road that also streams online.
The station’s musical output is delivered by over 80 of Portland’s own DJs, promoters and record label owners, native musicians and music geeks, giving it a distinctly local feel. Expect to hear everything from indie rock to hip hop and heavy metal.
Talks and interviews broadcast on the station feature local movers and shakers, musicians, comedians, journalists, and more. Well worth a listen.
Frequency: 107.1 FM
The popular FM station KUTX is run from the University of Texas campus in Austin, and proudly showcases the city’s innovative and passionate music across numerous genres, as well as playing a diverse selection of tunes from around the world (the station claims to play more than 30,000 different tracks annually).
Like KEXP and KCRW, KUTX is big on live performances, with the likes of Father John Misty and actor Kevin Bacon’s band The Bacon Brothers turning up to record sessions in recent times.
The eclectic mix of shows, handpicked tunes and live music have all served to make KUTX an Austin staple.
Frequency: 98.9 FM
Berlin Community Radio
The online broadcasting platform Berlin Community Radio showcases everything of note that’s coming from, passing through or influencing the fertile creative scene in Germany’s capital city of Berlin.
The station is home to over 100 shows that cover a variety of topics including art, culture, literature, feminism and much more. Musically, the radio plays songs across many genres, including alternative and indie rock and dance music the city has become intrinsically linked with.
Worth seeking out online or using that 4G connection on your phone to listen to on the move.
Independent, community owned station 3RRR has been a mainstay of Melbourne radio for over 4 decades now. Broadcasting on 102.7FM and 3RRR Digital, it produces over 60 diverse programs with specialist talks on the key issues like the environment and music spanning genres from pop to punk rock, electro to jazz and country and metal.
The majority of 3RRR’s programs are presented by music-loving volunteers or experts in a particular field of discussion, meaning the the voices heard on the Melbourne station are as varied as its listeners.
3RRR’s Performance Space officially opened its doors in 2009, and since then has played host to gigs featuring unsigned Australian acts, comedy shows, independent theatre and literary events, as well as big names like Aussie songstress Courtney Barnett. It is also available to listen to online in digital format.
Frequency: 107.2 FM