Radio Free Philadelphia
Philly radio is, kinda, well, horrible. A barren wasteland. A no man’s land. A dry desert, soakin’ up rain, soakin’ up sun, where the few oasis to be found are not only insipid, but so similar that you can barely tell one from the other.
Unless you listen to hip-hop… or have discovered 91.7 WKDU.
I’ve got nothing against hip-hop, but it’s not really my cup of tea. As such, the various hip-hop stations that dot our FM landscape here in Philadelphia are of no help to me. Well, that’s not entirely true. When Nelly’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here” was making its rounds, I must admit that I was all about Power 99. Although it did reveal me for the poser that I am, blowing so readily with the popular winds, it was a brief fascination and when it was over I was left once again searching Phildelphia’s FM dial for someplace to call home.
We do have WHYY at 90.9 which is an excellent station. Terri Gross has got to be one of the finest interviewers in the English speaking world and, if you want intelligent talk radio, WHYY will more than meet your needs. I want to talk about music here, though.
Back in the day, after WYSP made the switch from classic rock, things were OK. WMMR played the older, less agressive stuff. WYSP was for the younger, more metal oriented crowd. And, we had Y100 for altern… I won’t use that term. Let’s call it “outsider rock.” Ahem. So, in addition to WYSP and WMMR, we had Y100 for outsider rock. Back then, things were basically good. No one of these stations was a national standout, but, if you flipped between the three, you could usually find a song that you liked.
The salad days didn’t last, though. Gradually, WMMR and WYSP began to converge. Lots of Gun’s ‘N Roses and Metallica for the boys, U2, Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith for the girls. Less and less of a difference between the two stations. Y100 stayed relatively pure, for a time. As time went on, though, Metallica made inroads into Y100, as well. Little did we all know that Y100 was teetering towards a fall, anyway.
Finally, Y100 died. Format change to hip-hop. WMMR and WYSP all but officially merged their playlists. These days, it’s all too common to tune into WMMR and WYSP and hear the same song being broadcast at the same time. And, you can forget about deep cuts. Top 40 rock dominates.
Ugh… it’s a sad situation and I don’t know what can be done, but, fortunatley, I have found a salvation of sorts in 91.7 WKDU. The broadcast area of WKDU is not nearly big enough and you’re basically lucky if you’re radio receives it. Nonetheless, in my opinion, WKDU is far and away the best radio station in Philadelphia. It’s completely non-commercial, diverse, and friendly to anyone who wants to call in. Just yesterday, I heard three Misfits songs off of Static Age: “Static Age”, “Hybrid Moments”, and “We Are 138”. Also, part of “Teenagers from Mars”, but I think that was a flub on the part of the DJ. Nevertheless, I was lovin’ life for a good ten, fifteen minutes.
WKDU plays everything, from rock to metal to electronica to reggae. If you’re stuck behind a computer all day, check out the free live webfeed at www.wkdu.org. That’s what I do.