Radio’s making a comeback, you guys. Like cassette tapes returning to popularity, radio stations are still the same, cool music and culture hubs that they’ve always been and people are returning to the medium for this reason. Especially in an era when you can become overwhelmed with making playlists and over thinking listening options because you have too much to listen to, radio offers a mindless but stimulating alternative to listening because they pick the music for you and they tell you why something is worth your time. There may be commercials and there may be pledge drives but these services we listen to in our car, on our phones, in our homes are at a very important, creative moment we should pay attention to. In Southern California, there are myriad options for listening that are new and old and slightly alternative. Some may be obvious, others may not be, but we wanted to take a moment to breakdown a few local radio stations to take note of and why they are worth your time.
• KKJZ 88.1 FM: The CSU Long Beach radio station is a relatively small public radio station that specializes in jazz. It’s obviously the lowest station and may be difficult to find on your car radio if it doesn’t go that low and gets meh reception. The station has also been in operation since 1950 but fully commited itself to all jazz music all the time in 1981.
• KXLU 88.9 FM: This station is Loyola Marymont’s station and does a good job of being totally alternative. They have a wide variety of tastes as reflective of the students running the system but, as you can see from their new additions and Top Music, they play everything from Foxygen to Part Time Punks to Bleached. There is a homeyness to them as, you know, they are students. It’s kind of cute. You can totally call them and make requests too as we (awkwardly and brilliantly) heard this morning.
• KPCC 89.3 FM: We don’t even need to tell you about this station but KPCC is a very newsy, very informative public radio station that is known for their keeping LA informed. With original shows like Take Two, Off Ramp, Air Talk, and more, KPCC offers you everything you need to know about LA in culture and news. You can also catch public radio gems like Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Radiolab, This American Life, The Moth, and Splendid Table in addition to newcomers like Dinner Party Download and Bullseye as a part of their newly revamped weekend lineup.
• KCRW 89.9 FM: Like KPCC’s alternative and more musically inclined sibling, KCRW is known for their representing the latest in contemporary, current music and showcasing the best of the best sounds of today. They provide tons of great in-house culture dipped shows like Morning Becomes Eclectic, DnA, Which Way LA, Shortcuts, Good Food, and Matt’s Movies. They, too, are always changing content (i.e., welcome Madeleine!) and put on really fab events too.
• KPFK 90.7 FM: Surprise: there is another public radio station in LA! KPFK Pacifica is a North Hollywood based listener-supported station that has been around since the forties, albeit not in LA. The station is focused greatly on national politics, health and spirituality, and some music. Examples of their shows include Feminist Magazine, The Lawyer’s Guild, Aware, Something’s Happening, and DogNoir. Of all the stations in LA, this is the most classic, small town public radio with an LA slant. They are seriously worth a listen.
• KUSC 91.5 FM: KUSC is a reprieve from all of the talking you may get a little overwhelmed by: it’s just classical music. They do an excellent job of keeping the music going and not standing in the way of what you are listening to. You may sometimes be wondering what the music is you are listening to but, ultimately, you fall into a good groove of sounds since they are so serious about classical music. The station is like a little radio secret that is perfect to help you concentrate and feel totally intellectual. Download their app, too.
• Hot 92.3 FM: By far our favorite “non-public radio” station, 92.3 is great for listening to “Old School music.” What’s that? This is music that ranges from late disco to freestyle to R&B to eighties and nineties synth based pop (but not synthpop). It’s very mom and dad but has an undeniable cool to them as they play indulgent bands like Kylmaxx, Yarbrough & Peoples, Al B. Sure, Jody Watley, and more. Their weekend programming is excellent and you can catch personality Art Laboe weeknights starting at 7PM. Come for the music, stay for the Morongo Casino commercials.
• KOLA 99.9 FM: A bit “newer” and a more vanilla version of 92.3, KOLA is known for their eighties and nineties rock, alt-rock, pop, and New Wave. They’ve been around for twenty years and, while we personally don’t listen to them that much, they’re a good someone to flip to if you want that feeling like you are in the early 2000s listening to music that isn’t *quite* oldies yet. These aren’t oldies yet either but, you know, they’re on the cusp of “classic.”
• EARTH 101.1 FM: K-EARTH is another hit station with an eye on the sixties through eighties. The best way to describe them is a mix between both 92.3 and 99.9 as they grab a bit of both and toss them into a pot. They don’t have quite as much personality as the latter two stations. Regardless, this is better than listening to KROQ or KISS.
• KOGO 600 AM: While we want to refuse supporting this station because they obviously are a looney bin who push people like Rush Limbaugh, we do want to highlight that they are your local supplier of late night crazy via Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis. The show is known for it’s focusing on paranormal and (faux) science subjects, all of which are entertaining if you don’t allow yourself to dip too deeply into his pool. We’ve also heard that the show gets some wild callers, too. Note this is technically a San Diego station.
• KNX 1070 AM: This is purely an informative, CBS station you may want to bookmark because of traffic updates and news. If you want just the facts, turn here.
• KMozart 1260 AM: If you want more than what KUSC is offering, flip from FM to AM and try out KMozart. They are a similar station that usually has something of a literal different speed from KUSC when you want it. What isn’t there to like in classical? Nothing! We highly recommend this station as well.
• KXSC 1560 AM: With a well designed website, great programming, and a very forward thinking music minded base from USC, KXSC is probably one of the biggest “cool” stations working in LA. They do a good jobs of keeping you informed on what they dig and updating their blog. A lot of their programming is just their “Robot Rock” filler but specials can be found here. Once school comes back hard in the Fall, check back for new shows and options from news to sports to music.
• kchung 1630 AM: The Chinatown based alt-alt-alt artsy station is likely the newest out of all of these and has ties with legit places like Ooga Booga and Night Gallery. They’re a pretty scrappy outfit that everyone can get involved with and that runs from roughly 7PM to midnight, five days a week. They’re also always looking for show ideas and would love a little help via physical and non-physical services. They’re definitely the coolest station on this list…
Web Only, etc. Stations
• KOXY: Although on Summer break now, KOXY is the online-only radio outfit for Occidental. The school has a strong tie to music given many alt-stars have come out of the institution: it’s only appropriate that the school offers a similarly alternative listening experience. Moreover, they do lots of events by and for students that would be totally cool for non-students to attend. Check back in with them in the Fall.
• UCLAradio.com: Completely cutting out any idea of a radio station, UCLA has turned to a completely online format and doesn’t even attempt to have a “radio name.” Since the school is so big, the station always seems to be going with something and has an interesting list of programs that range from DJ iTunes autoplaying to gameshows, fantasy sports, comedy shows, film, and something called “Cranberry Chutney.” They have lots of giveaways and host big events from at-school concerts and festivals to advance screenings of films.
• Radio Airlift: Perhaps the youngest ran, Radio Airlift is actually a station coming from Beverly Hills High School. Who knew those kids could be so alt?! Good for them. They describe their style as covering electronic, talk, indie rock, alternative, rock, and jazz. Each time we’ve tuned in, they’ve had something interesting to listen to which likely makes this station the most curious option in LA.
• KWO37: Less of a station and more of a concept, KWO37 is supposed to be a weather station. You’d need a radio scanner to access their 162.550 MHz frequency which would obviously be useful if you were into weather tech stuff. Perhaps play this as you listen to KUSC since updates may be pretty infrequent…?
Well, those are the stations we’re into. Are there any you guys enjoy that we may be missing? Any recommendations to make? Let us know in the comments!