Top 20 College Stations
I hear people say all the time that " There are no good new bands anymore" Rock is dead" " Hip Hop isn't what it used to be" I say WRONG. The best music out there is being made by hungry new artists that don't have a mega-corporation behind them pushing their music to the masses. One of my favorite ways to discover new music is to follow the feeds of College Radio. Prehab has been played on many of these fine stations below. Check them out!
J / Prehab
WKDU (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Drexel’s station may seem a little schizophrenic at times, but if you’re like us, you’ll learn to love the unpredictable variety—jazz and funk one hour, metal and hardcore punk the next. Check the station’s website for its impressive roster of in-studio interviews, including bands like The Bouncing Souls and the Menzingers. wkdu.org
WASU (Boone, North Carolina)
Tune in to Appalachian State University’s WASU if you’re a fan of low-key indie rockers like Soft Swells, White Wives, and Ween. The station’s appealing mix of under-the-radar bands fueled it to a second place finish last year in MTV’s annual college radio rankings. And we’d be remiss to overlook weekly staples like “The Health Corner” (Mondays at 7). wasurocks.com
WKNC (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Their blunt mission? To provide listeners with music “that doesn’t suck.” N.C. State University’s station fulfills its promise with an eclectic mix of underground hip-hop, indie rock, and metal. WKNC also supports a wide range of free collaborative events like “Local Band, Local Beer” that pairs up North Carolina’s best bands with its finest brews. wknc.org
WUTK (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Operated out of the University of Tennessee, The Rock offers a pair of bright spots for listeners seeking new (or long forgotten) music. Try “Kill Ugly Radio” on Wednesday afternoons—a sort of “lost and found” of classic rock—and “Acoustic Café,” a perfect way to nurse a Saturday morning hangover. wutkradio.com
WPRK (Winter Park, Florida)
Rollins College’s station bills itself as the “best in basement radio.” In other words, if you’re hoping to hear the new Coldplay album, you’d best point your dial—or browser— elsewhere. WPRK’s most-played list veers more in the direction of bands like Eels, Beach House, Four Tet, Surfer Blood, and Animal Collective. rollins.edu/wprk Listen here.
KPSU (Portland, Oregon)
Portland State University’s station has maintained a strong following in the city since 1994, with popular weekly shows like “Live Friday,” where local bands play in the studio, and “Guitar Shop”—an acoustic show every Wednesday. The sleek, user-friendly website also makes it easy to chat with DJs, place requests, and download one of their many regularly updated podcasts. kpsu.org
WJCU (Cleveland, Ohio)
Founded in 1969, John Carroll University’s station features a mix of students and local volunteers. The undergrads dominate “The Heights”—a popular alt-rock program that fills the mornings and afternoons during the week. If you prefer a more eclectic music mix, try “Haunted Graffiti” on Thursday evenings—indie rock from the ’80s and ’90s—or Caribbean Groove on Saturday nights. wjcu.org Listen here.
WSBU (St. Bonaventure, New York)
St. Bonaventure University’s station has history on its side—it was founded in 1948. Experience like that might be one reason the Princeton Review ranked WSBU fourth overall on a recent list of the best college radio stations. Indie rock like Mountain Goats, The Strokes, and Peter Bjorn and John feature prominently on the playlist. wsbufm.net
WICB (Ithaca, New York)
A former winner of MTVu’s “Woodie” award for best college radio station, WICB is now staffed almost entirely by the students of nearby Ithaca University. And unlike a lot of other stations on this list, they aren’t afraid to admit their taste occasionally skews more mainstream. Michael Franti and Matt Pond PA make appearances, but in a refreshing twist, you’ll also get Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, and OK Go. wicb.org Listen here.
Radio DePaul (Chicago, Illinois)
Radio DePaul swept last year’s annual awards banquet hosted by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. Among the superlatives it took home? Best college station in the nation, most creative show (“Midnight Rider”), Most Innovative Program (“Days of Wonder”), Best Newscast, and even Best Sports Update. Whatever they’re doing in Chicago, it’s working. Get the podcasts if you can’t listen live. radio.depaul.edu Listen here.
KZSC (Santa Cruz, California)
We figured most students at UC Santa Cruz would be too busy surfing to bother with the radio—and then we discovered KZSC. Listen at any point in the week and you’ll hear everything from blues and country to soul and hip-hop. Try it on Saturday mornings for a weekly workout mix with “DJ Muscles.” kzsc.org Listen here.
KEXP (Seattle, Washington)
Broadcast out of the University of Washington, KEXP has quietly pioneered some of the biggest advancements in web radio. They were among the first to create real-time playlists, all while offering uncompressed streaming, radio podcasts, and archived performances. The station also partners with—and receives funding from—billionaire investor Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project. kexp.org Listen here.
WGRE (Greencastle, Indiana)
Last year the Princeton Review ranked DePauw University’s station the second-best in the nation—the fourteenth consecutive year that WGRE finished in the top 10. The station employs more than 200 student DJs that combine local news and sports coverage with a stellar blend of alt-rock hits. depauw.edu Listen here.
WERS (Boston, Massachusetts)
Emerson College’s WERS recently rebranded itself as “Music for the Independent Mind,” and while many listeners complained about the station’s turn toward more well-known indie-rockers—Regina Spektor, Death Cab for Cutie, and the like—it still offers one of Boston’s most appealing music lineups. There’s also “Standing Room Only,” which the station deems “the most listened to musical theater radio program in New England” on Saturday and Sunday mornings. wers.org Listen here.
WCRX (Chicago, Illinois)
If there’s any time to give Columbia College’s station a chance, it’s 2:45 pm on Mondays and Fridays. That’s when DJs pick a single, unsigned artist and play one song. (The tracks are also featured on the station’s homepage.) The rest of the time, WCRX’s staff features plenty of reggae and indie rock, along with the occasional broadcast of the UIC Flames basketball games. wcrx.net
KVRX (Austin, Texas)
Playing host to major festivals like Austin City Limits and South By Southwest, Austin is a music lover’s town. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that it’s also home to one of the best college radio stations in the country. KVRX is candid about what to expect—“none of the hits, all of the time.” In that vein, their “Topless 39 anti-hit list” touts relatively under-the-radar artists like The Mole People, The Zoltars, Shakey Graves, and Elaine Greer. kvrx.org Listen here.
KCRW (Santa Monica, California)
Santa Monica College’s KCRW is best known for its popular program Morning Becomes Eclectic, aired every week since 1977. That’s one reason the station enjoys far more popularity than the average student-run production, with about 600,000 listeners throughout California. An NPR affiliate, KCRW also broadcasts popular programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered. kcrw.com
KANM (College Station, Texas)
One of the few AM college stations still in existence, most people who listen to KANM choose to do so over the Web. Texas A&M’s stream is one of the most popular in the country, featuring a nicely curated blend of punk, ska, reggae, roots, and rock. kanm.tamu.edu
WSOU (South Orange, New Jersey)
Seton Hall’s WSOU rarely ventures outside of its punk, heavy metal, and hardcore comfort zone. Likewise, they’ve been credited as being among the first stations to play bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Korn, and Rage Against the Machine. Later this year, they’ll host a special concert to celebrate their anniversary, 25 Years of Metal that will include bands like Chimaira and Unearth. wsou.net
KCPR (San Luis Obispo, California)
Most students at California Polytechnic State University know KCPR as the station they turn to when they need a break from the usual Top 20. Others know it for giving Weird Al Yankovic his start. (Yankovic, the story goes, recorded the song ‘My Bologna’ in the bathroom across from KCPR’s original location on campus. Indie rock now makes up the bulk of the rotation—a recent most-played list included artists like St. Vincent, Chris Letcher, Bill Baird, and Blood Orange. kcpr.org Listen here.