Working at WHQR (my top station, if there be doubts) as the webmaster, I think a lot about radio, and what makes good radio. There are some generally agreed upon production standards that can help programs sound good or bad. There are basic problems, like that one dj who always plays with the zipper of his jacket on-air so you can't think about the weather advisory he's reading. All you hear is zzzzzzip zzzzzip zzzzzip. Beyond basic sound issues like that, though, it starts to get wishy-washy, creative, and cool.
I greatly enjoy certain news programs that WHQR airs, and others I enjoy less. It's not about what is good. It's about what I dig. I want to share my top five non-'HQR stations with y'all. Don't rush to your FM dial, these are all stations from the west. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and that's where I learned to love radio.
1-KUOI 89.3 FM: Moscow, Idaho
Not that Moscow, KUOI is where I first went on-air. One of my shows, From Portland to Pakistan, featured Pakistani hits alongside music from Portland, Oregon. If you're interested in some sonic punishment, I have a cassette recording of one of my last shows at KUOI. I called in a request for “Dramamine” by Modest Mouse when I left town for the last time. The western horizon was red with sunset. I heard the signal fade as I drove out of the broadcast area misty eyed. Listen to KUOI Here.
2- KWCW 90.5 FM: Walla Walla, Washington
Famous for (the most delicious ever) onions, Walla Walla, Washington is also home to Whitman College and this really cool free-form, non-profit student radio station. I'm consistently impressed by the variety and intensity with which these people love sharing music. This list is all about the free-form radio and the root vegetables. Listen to KWCW here.
3- KBSU and KBSX: Boise, Idaho
Idaho love. KBSX has top-notch news coverage out of Boise that is consistently relevant to a national audience. I mean, they're an NPR station, so I dig it. Their all-music evil twin airs Private Idaho on Saturdays at 10AM (12 our time), and I aways find a musical gem hidden there. Check out KBSU here.
4- KNRK: Portland, Oregon
Dude, this station is like totally corporate dude. Dude, that's totally true, but they recently launched 94/7too, which is an AM partner that only plays bands from the Pacific Northwest, with a huge focus on small groups and independently produced records. AM isn't dead, dudes. Listen to 94/7too here.
5- KEXP: Seattle, Washington
When it comes to live in-studio video recording, it's possible that nobody does it better than KEXP. They have an incredible mix of programming, and I've literally let hours slip away while watching their youtube videos. I heart their production abilities and so can you: