Free Online Music Radio Stations

Kevin Ott
Asian dj working at radio station

Local FM radio stations might seem to be fading in contrast to the overwhelming rise of streaming services like Apple Music and Pandora, but that's not entirely true. Local radio, even independent stations that shape their own destinies, are still alive and well today. Thanks to the internet, you don't have to move to a new region to listen to their unique local programming.

Regional American Radio Stations

It is a wonderful adventure to roam the internet, discovering gems of local radio stations and saving them as personal favorites. The best part of this treasure hunt? It allows you to transport yourself to other cities in the country to enjoy their music and their local cultures with just the click of a mouse.

The following list of 20 FM radio stations around the United States will give you a virtual tour of what the most interesting, brilliant local DJs are spinning around the country.

Film Music and Masterpieces: KUSC Classical Radio

KUSC is the renowned classical music station that has been broadcasting out of the University of Southern California for over 60 years. It is one of the few remaining full-service classical stations in the nation, meaning 100 percent of its schedule is dedicated to classical music every day of the year.

It is also a regular programmer of exceptional film music. This is not surprising since USC is home to its famous film school where George Lucas (the creator of Star Wars) attended. KUSC is known for not only choosing great music, but adding fun tidbits and fascinating back story to each piece it plays.

Listen live to KUSC.

KROQ: The Famous Los Angeles Rock Radio Station

KROQ is found at 106.7 FM in Los Angeles, the birth place of many famous rock bands and rock music styles. For this reason, because of KROQ's longevity (it has been around since the 1960s), it has been a rock institution, and it has had almost every famous rock star on as a guest at some point. It still plays an exciting program and has one-of-a-kind guest features.

Listen live to KROQ.

St. Bonaventure's Famous College Station

WSBU 88.3 FM is consistently ranked one of the top college stations in the country by Princeton Review. According to its site, "The station has student and professor DJs spinning from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Alternative rock plays throughout the week and hip hop and classic rock on the weekends."

Listen live to WSBU.

Broadway Radio

New York is where the great musicals are born so it's not surprising someone has created a site solely dedicated to highlighting New York State radio stations that pay special tribute to NYC's musical stardom. If you need a special fix of Broadway on live radio, try these shows, courtesy of BroadwayRadioPrograms.com:

  • Hempstead: "Stage and Screen", WRHU-FM, 88.7, Sunday, 9:00-11:00 p.m. Click on this listen live link to hear the program.
  • Ithaca: "Best of Broadway", WICB-FM, 91.7, Sunday, 10:00-12:00 p.m. Click the play arrow in the top left corner of the website's header to listen.
  • Jeffersonville's Radio Catskills in New York has, in the past, had "Music From The Stage" on WJFF-FM, 90.5, Tuesdays, 10-12 p.m. (Click on this listen live link to hear their programs.) However, the Broadway show is not currently in the schedule. Monitor their program schedule because it might reappear. Even if it doesn't, WJFF's fascinating mix of programs easily makes it one of the interesting stations in the country.

New Jersey Metal Aficionados Bring Their Finest

WSOU, a well-known college station in the New York Metro area, specializes in loud rock: heavy metal, punk, emo, hardcore, and post hardcore music, with high quality new and undiscovered artists frequently featured. The station has been around since the 1970s when it was one of the first in the nation to play punk rock.

Listen live to WSOU.

Nashville

If you travel south away from New York's Broadway and metal stations, you'll eventually run into Nashville, TN--aka Music City. Here you will find two of the best music radio stations in the nation, complete with an authentic local Nashville flavor:

  • Lightning 100 FM: This rock/indie/singer-songwriter station has amazing taste in its programs with a fun, eclectic mix ranging from lesser known Beatles songs like Dear Prudence, to hits from The Killers, to the latest indie singer-songwriter. The show also features local Nashville talent to give you a radio experience you can't duplicate anywhere else. To listen to Lightning 100 FM, scroll down to middle of its home page, and you will see an embedded player you can click to play its live stream.
  • The Big 98 FM: With great local Nashville DJs, such as Bobby Jones and the Tige and Daniel show, this Nashville station brings the best country music and often exclusive events and guests that only a Nashville radio station could get. Listen live to the Big 98 FM.

The Classic Bakersfield Sound Straight From Bakersfield

Speaking of country and Nashville, it's important not to forget about the Nashville of the West, as its known to country music fans: Bakersfield, California. Country legends Merle Haggard and Buck Owens both came from Bakersfield, and they crafted the famous Bakersfield Sound. It's not surprising, then, that Bakersfield has a superb local country station at KUZZ.

Listen live to KUZZ.

East Coast Hip Hop

If you're looking for something less country and rock and more hip hop, then why not try the city that launched Jay-Z? The New York City station Hot 97 plays a top-notch mix of the latest and greatest hip hop tracks.

Click the play arrow in the top middle of the website's header to listen.

West Coast Hip Hop

On the other end of the nation in Los Angeles you've got Power 106, which brings LA's fast-living flare to its hip hop station. It has a Hollywood vibe and plenty of exclusive interviews and events that only a top LA station could get.

Click the play arrow in the top middle of the website's header to listen.

Seattle Rock and Art Music Funded By a Bruce Wayne-Like Billionaire

If you'd like some rain, coffee, and performance art instead of big city hip hop or mainstream commercial rock, KEXP in Seattle has got you covered. The station, which prefers to call itself a "dynamic arts organization," is funded by billionaire Paul Allen, and it features a small army of expert curators (i.e. DJs) who play indie rock and alternative music. It also features live audio and video streams of a variety of special events.

Click the play arrow in the top left of the website's header to listen.

A Little Local Boston Flavor

Boston has its own style of independent-minded radio broadcasting, and WERS in Boston captures that style perfectly. It is commercial-free, and it prides itself in being a "discovery station" that strives to introduce its local Boston audience to amazing music that is difficult to find, has become obscure, or has yet to be discovered.

Click the play arrow in the top middle of the website's header to listen.

Country Music Kicker in Arkansas

If you'd like a different Southern flavor added to the mix, the city of Texarkana, Arkansas is happy to oblige. Its Kicker 102.5 FM station is a popular country station in Arkansas, and the radio station often covers live events at the county fair (i.e. the Demolition Derby) and youth talent shows alongside all of "today's new country" it plays 24/7.

Listen live to Kicker 102.5 FM.

The Astonishingly Cool 'Independent FM' in Los Angeles

The Independent FM is an ultra-cool station with memorable DJ personalities like Lady Mo and plenty of carefully curated programs that plug you straight into the hippest happenings in the Los Angeles music scene. If you're feeling a little uncool or having a bad week, diving into Independent FM will instantly upgrade your cool factor and let you escape into the inner workings of a big city music scene.

Listen live to The Independent (and then click on the big play arrow once it opens).

A Word From the Cool Kids in Maui

KOPO 88.9 FM does something unique: all of its DJs are kids from the local Paia Youth and Cultural Center, and they read all the announcements in between the music, which is all very tasteful: everything from Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan to Jack Johnson and jazz. KOPO is unlike any station you've heard, and it's clear they're having a ton of fun doing it.

Listen live to KOPO.

North Carolina Indie Rock Station Known For Discovering Artists

90.5 FM WASU in North Carolina is very serious about its station. It only lets students DJ who are pursuing a career in broadcasting. It has made a name for itself by searching and finding talented indie rockers before they get famous. So if you want to hear the next big thing in the indie music scene, listen to WASU.

Listen live to WASU.

Philadelphia Free Format Goes Wild

WKDU in Philly is known as the only free-format station in Philly that is ad-free. An especially popular program is its Saturday morning reggae show that attracts a large chunk of Philly's Caribbean community. The rest of time, it's an eclectic mix of punk, acid jazz, j-pop, indie rock, metal, or electronica--all with a good helping of Philadelphia attitude.

Listen live to WKDU.

A Volunteer Team Effort in Maine

WRFR-LP 93.3 FM in Rockland, Maine is a 100-watt low-powered radio station that now has a global audience thanks to its website that live streams its shows. The station has only volunteer DJs, and each DJ is free to take the show in a completely new direction from the previous. This makes for a wildly unpredictable, very eclectic, but highly entertaining, community-oriented feel-good listening experience.

Listen live to WRFR.

Regional International Radio Stations

If the American borders are too confining, you may want to venture into international radio waters. Fortunately, there's plenty of fine local radio stations around the world who are more than happy to share their radio signals and their unique cultural experiences with you.

London, England - Capital

If you've ever wanted to listen to the "most popular independent radio station in London," as Capital FM claims to be, then you've found it. It's hard not to believe them: they were one of the first independent stations in the United Kingdom. They started broadcasting in the fall of 1973. Its morning show with Johnny Vaughan is especially popular with the youth of London.

Listen live to Capital.

Paris, France

The City of Lights has an extraordinary number of radio stations, but a few of the prominent Paris stations with distinctly French music can be found at the following sites:

  • Chante France radio features unique French pop music that you won't hear in the US. Click here to listen live.
  • France Musique offers a French curated mixed programming of classical, jazz, and rock. Click the play arrow in the top middle of the website's header to listen.
  • The FIP, or FIPRadio in Paris, is known for its eclectic mix of French music. Click the play arrow in the top middle of the website's header to listen.
  • Need some French-curated dance music? Extra Fun FM, based in Paris, has what you need. Click here to listen live.

Online Radio Station Collectives

If you'd like to search for your own local stations around the world, exploring an online radio station collective is an easy place to start. You can think of a radio station collective as a beehive of FM radio stations that have made their local signals available online through their websites. The "collective" site gathers all of these links in one place.

TuneIn

TuneIn is one of the most fun collectives to explore. You can search for radio stations by city or country in the search box, and you will get helpful results. All radio stations are free, but it plays ads, and you have to upgrade to their premium service to go ad-free--$9.99 if you subscribe through your phone, and $7.99 if you subscribe online through their site.

iHeartRadio

iHeart Radio links to FM stations from all the usual genres (rock, pop, country, hip hop) as well as Spanish, reggae & island, dance, oldies, christian, classical, and college radio where you can often hear more eclectic styles. The free version has limited skips and limited playlists that you can create, but its paid versions (ranging from $4.99 to $12.99) unlock unlimited features.

ShoutCast

ShoutCast offers access to hundreds of user-run radio stations, some professional live stations, some homemade streaming digital stations. The number of genres represented is staggering--30+ genres--and its home page features a "Top Stations" section that is easy to get lost in as you explore its diverse offerings. There are no ads and streaming the stations is free.

K-LOVE

If you're a fan of christian rock, christian hip hop, or christian contemporary music, K-LOVE is your radio station home base. It does not offer the diversity of programming as the other collectives. It's essentially a single national radio program but if you enter your ZIP code, it provides the local K-LOVE stations in your area. It has the usual top-of-the-hour ad spots of live radio.

A Vacation in Your Headphones

If you haven't noticed already, using the internet to enjoy local radio stations around the country and world has a therapeutic effect: it lets you escape to another place, another time zone, maybe even a completely different culture, and, if only for a few songs while your radio is turned on, it makes you feel like you're on vacation.

Free Online Music Radio Stations