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.

What do we got for the rock and the roll? 93.3 WMMR, 94.1 WYSP, and the now defunct Y100.

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 That’s what I do.

4 Comments so far

  1. Jay V (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 2:53 pm

    If only we lived right next to Drexel we could all get that station.

    Lack ot Y100 on my radio dial has depressed me so much I listen to XPN and — I’ll be shot for this one — 101.5 !!!

  2. Dave (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 3:33 pm

    I was never really thrilled with Y100. If I could have any station — WDRE 103.9 is the one to bring back.

    That was the best station, back when Nirvana and Pearl Jam were fresh sounds. They broadcast all sorts of live concerts, and played songs other than singles.

  3. AugustEarth (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    You should be able to sue somebody over being forced to listen to XPN.

    I totally agree about DRE. As good as KDU — maybe better — and with a broadcast area greater than five square blocks.

  4. Javier Enriquez Jr. (unregistered) on July 11th, 2005 @ 9:57 am

    I Don’t Mind The Rock…. I Listen To Some Myself, Its Good Music. But Me Myself, Im Puerto Rican Living in The NORTH PHILLY area, and I Wanna Know, Where is the Reggaeton/Hip-Hop/Reggae/Spanish-Hip-Hop Comin To Philly…. I Was in Florida For A Couple Of Weeks and They Have This Kind Of Station almost everywhere….. WHY DONT WE?… I Know Lots of People Who Would Like To Have This….. Sure, Q-102, Wired 96.5, and sometimes Power 99, and 103.9 the BEAT are playing a little GASOLINA by Daddy Yankee (well not any more unless its LIVE at a club)… but we need more, Something We Can Dance To, Something That Can Make Us Feal Right at Home.

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