Pete Naughton There's a whole lot of good radio out there which isn't made up of soporific playlists and banal chatter but it isn't always easy to find. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of the best internet radio stations, which are guaranteed to introduce you to something fresh, whatever your tastes.
We'll keep listening and update this list regularly with the best new internet radio stations. CKUT I first became aware of this Montreal-based station as the home of WeFunk - a long-running, addictive soul, funk and hip-hop show, which goes out live every Friday, and is also available as a dedicated internet radio station at www.
There is, however, more to it than that: CKUT's schedules bustle with fine, alternative-leaning music programming - from jazz and ska to punk, folk and heavy metal - all of which is accessible to stream, on demand, from their website.
There are only a handful of dedicated channels around the world. Fip France Inter Paris - "Fip" for short - celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, and remains one of the best moodimproving music stations on the web.
Commercial free, with very little DJ chatter beyond the news and weather , it manages to deliver a consistently surprise-springing mixture of music - from Mozart to Motown, forgotten Afrobeat songs to modern French songwriting and beyond.
I've been listening regularly for over a decade, and have lost count of the number of great records that I have discovered through it.
Stock Montage, Listeners with a penchant for quirky, original speech radio should make a weekend date with this small non-commercial station from Ohio, whose schedules are full of arresting syndicated content from some of the US's best radio-makers.
There's classical music every morning until 9am, and contemporary music from midnight, Monday to Friday. Kool 97 FM I was won over by the little station from Kingston, Jamaica, when I tuned in and heard the announcer reading out flight arrival and departure times from the local airport; a regular feature, it turns out, which never fails to deliver a vicarious travel thrill.
Beyond that, the station's playlist simmers with Caribbean charm, with old favourites such as Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Lee Scratch Perry through to new artists like Chronixx and Protoje. The station promises that half of the music it serves is reggae.
Monocle 24 Allen Toussaint Credit: Patrick Semansky Unlike most internet-only radio stations, which are run on a shoestring budget by volunteers, and rely on music shows to fill out their schedules, Monocle 24 - the radio arm of the lifestyle magazine Monocle - is a slick operation that broadcasts several hours of original speech content every day.
Pitched at a cosmopolitan, styleconscious audience, it's particularly good on travel, design and business; but also has shows focusing on everything from arts to food, and has a neat "listen again" feature. Like the great WFMU in New Jersey, it runs on a freeform policy, meaning that DJs have complete creative control over their shows; and boasts a particularly beautiful website, with an iPlayeresque capacity to stream recent episodes.
Highlights include Last Orders - a music show set in a fictional divebar - and the Afrobeat stylings of Amen Brother. Copyright c Rex Features. No use without permission. Their NFL analysis is, I'm assured, among the best in the US; but, like a real radio tourist, I tune in mostly for the accents and the ads. I've been impressed by the variety of its schedule, which takes in everything from fiction DePaul Writers' Series, Fridays, 4pm GMT to business reports Morning Market Report, Mondays, 2pm to some great music - not least Skaficionados, a dedicated ska show Saturdays, from midnight and the jazz-and-worldmusic of Cabochon Jazz Radio Sundays at 4pm.
That's exactly how it is with this station from the American Theatre Organ Society, which plays lilting Wurlitzer organ music of the kind that accompanied silent films in the early 20th century - and absolutely nothing else. MixRadio Tony Hancock Credit: Pros include an elegant interface, a clever music prediction system and an option to download four playlists for offline listening.
Tidal Following its relaunch last year, this music streaming service has set itself out as different from Spotify, Apple Music, et al, in two main ways. Unlike many internet radio stations, it also has an elegantly designed website that makes it a breeze to tune in and browse through the line-up.
So you can listen with hesitation or deviation though listen long enough and there will be repetition. YouTube Mix Typically, computer-generated music recommendations are about as impressive as computer-generated jokes. No Shoes Radio Programmed and maintained by the hugely popular country musician Kenny Chesney as a way of better connecting with his fans, this radio station should give other bands and artists food for thought - because it's considerably more charming than the usual social media avenues.
Its playlist varies between live concert recordings, tour-bus interviews, phoneins from fans, and a huge rotation of Chesney's favourite songs - from Nirvana to Billy Joel. I'm hardly a country nut, and I was impressed. This French radio station gives listeners a chance to decide for themselves, by playing an eclectic, and often surprising, selection of soundtracks from around the world.
I find the station's official website, above, somewhat clunky - and so prefer to listen via tgr. Latino, Sundays, 3am GMT. This online station, run by the Global Bach Community, has gone one better and plays nothing but Bach, all of the time. I tend to tune in when I've had too much of a rock station and need a dose of musical equanimity. If you've yet to give the station a try then I can recommend it, especially for Nick Ferrari's am weekday breakfast show, which manages to deliver news, interviews, listener reaction and sports coverage with more charm, wit and energy than its counterparts on both TalkSport and 5 Live.
No surprise, then, that it's home to a surpassingly good music station in the form of WWOZ "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" , which plays a rich, moodimproving mixture of jazz, Cajun, blues, country and world music. I can't think of a single time that I've regretted tuning in.
Resonance FM It's been few years since I last wrote about Resonance FM, in which time the London-based broadcaster has improved its website, made changes to its schedules, and consolidated its reputation as the UK's most creative independent radio station. As before, its programme roster is well worth a browse, with over a hundred shows on offer, covering everything from African development to opera. My favourites include Hot Club Du Monde, which specialises in 78rpm records, and the ideas-and-culture talk show, Little Atoms.
Getty Images Now in its 16th year on air, this Los Angeles-based experimental music station is a reminder that there's more to the City of Angels than the gloss of the movie industry. DJs are given full creative control over their programmes, leading to a terrific range of music and some powerfully odd stuff: Bondi Beach Radio As the nights draw in, the frost starts to bite, and the promise of "seasonal disruptions" at Network Rail begins to loom, the time is ripe to book an appointment with this lively station from Sydney's most famous suburb - which offers sunny escapism by the bucketload.
Run by volunteers, it has studios that look out over the Pacific Ocean, and a schedule that offers everything fromSoul Funk Revival Mondays, 1pm , featuring James Brown, to a decent world music show Ritmo by the Sea, every other Wednesday, 11pm. Planet Radio City India currently has around m active internet users, giving it the second largest userbase in the world after China - so it's no wonder that the subcontinent's internet radio sector is currently enjoying a boom.
This slick radio hub is arguably the leader of the pack, with 16 different highquality streams to choose from - encompassing Indie music, electronica, Bollywood soundtracks and music for meditation NB: Getty Images Proving that the truth is often stranger - and more ironic - than fiction, this web radio portal is run by a company who also make hard-edged, Bourne Identityesque digital surveillance tools.
It offers five channels of vintage radio drama and comedy, ranging from suspense to science fiction; and, unlike a lot of internet radio stations, also maintains meticulously accurate schedules of what's on when. Recast This South African start-up does an interesting thing that may eventually bring broadcast executives out in a cold sweat: So, for instance, if you want to hear the tracks that are currently hot on BBC 6 Music or Seattle indie rock stalwarts KEXP without actually having to listen to the stations, you can.
Radio Free Brooklyn Freeform radio stations - in which DJs are granted complete control over their shows, without commercial or managerial interference - can be either glowing petri dishes of creativity, variety and counter-cultural energy; or an irredeemably chaotic mess. Happily, this one from New York's hippest and most populous borough falls in the former camp. I particularly like the eclectic music show Ear Hammer Fridays, Time Capsule Audio Network This joyously quirky station from Nova Scotia tours the history of 20th century music every week, and rarely fails to bring a smile to my face.
Its schedules split the century into seven, day-long segments, starting with the years to on Mondays and then taking on a decade a day, ending with on Sunday. The stream mixes standout hits with lesser-known music, evocatively peppered with radio ads from the different eras.
This in-house radio station launched in January , and gives airtime to a stimulatingly varied and hip bunch of DJs from across the US, as well as music news from the magazine's Chicago HQ. Otto's Opera House Depending on your standpoint, opera is either the most emotionally direct of all art-forms, mixing orchestral music, theatrical storytelling and song with unparalleled power - or it's a mysterious, unintelligible waste of time. For listeners in the former camp, this station from the Swiss city of Zug is a must: Fine Music FM With very occasional exceptions, this upmarket, volunteer-run classical music station from Sydney avoids playing single movements of multimovement works - which is a common bugbear of classical listeners.
Tuning in, therefore, one often encounters long stretches of continuous music, with frequent performances of Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, among others. Pedro Basement Broadcast The French electronica and house DJ Laurent Garnier has been plying his trade since the late Eighties, and is considered one of the understated masters of the medium.
This hip web radio station plays tracks from his huge, wonderfully varied record collection, 24 hours a day, without ads or interruption - and has done since I'm always surprised by what I hear on it, from old instrumental jazz records to pieces of sparklingly fresh electro to remixes, oddities and dancehall classics.
This one from Fort Worth, Texas, only plays music made between the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, and is an untrammelled delight. Soma FM For the last 15 years, this listener-supported, San Fransisco-based internet radio hub has been broadcasting a range of beautifully curated channels - making it both one of the elder statesmen of the medium and an enduringly hip presence on the web.
Listeners can choose between feeds providing everything from old-timely Americana music, to Seventies album rock, to forward-leaning folk to a mix of James Bond-esque cocktail music, interspersed with quotes from spy films.
They're particularly good on jazz and classical music, with a handful of programmes covering both - from their weekly Jazz Profiles Sunday, 9am GMT to Transfigured Night Monday and Wednesday, 8pm , which makes Radio 3's Late Junction sound positively conservative.
This is Africa Given the relative paucity of broadband access in Africa, it's still comes as a surprise to stumble across an internet radio station from the continent - and so I was doubly pleased when this Cape Town-based radio platform was shortlisted for a Mixcloud Online Radio Award this year.
There are three stations: Hit Radio, which plays current chart music; Ghetto Radio, a youth-oriented station from Nairobi; and Classics Radio, which plays everything from Zimbabwean Chimurenga to Ghanian highlife. It does this by allowing artists to submit tracks, which are then assessed by a team of curators and - if they make the cut - placed into genreordered playlists from bluegrass to hip hop to Irish folk. From a listener perspective, it's a neat way of stumbling upon new music, and makes a refreshing change to commercial radio.
Spotify There are now a bewildering array of music streaming services on the market, from audiophile offerings like Tidal to this year's much-hyped Apple Music.
Spotify, which was the first to the party, remains the most elegant, intuitive and well-stocked of the lot of them - with an online jukebox that contains 30 million songs and counting. Mixcloud I'm continually impressed by this web platform, which allows DJs, programme makers and musicians to upload audio content - whether in the form of podcasts, mixtapes, or radio shows - and connect with a burgeoning audience.
The site is also really well designed, and allows browsing by genre from Ambient to World Music to Comedy to Science or by keyword. I can't think of anywhere else online where it's as easy - or as pleasant - to spend a whole day browsing and listening. KALX American universities are famed for the quality of their on-campus radio stations, which often outdo commercial broadcasters in terms of both creativity and musical content. I stumbled upon this station from the University of California, Berkeley, and have been impressed.
Its schedules bustle with everything from erudite film reviews Film Close-Ups, Sat, Mjoy Radio One of the gifts of internet radio is its ability to give a broader sense of a country than news headlines allow. This savvy media organisation, based in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, is an excellent case in point. Recently nominated for a Rain Internet Radio award, it gives listeners free access to a dozen elegantly conceived radio channels.
Among my favourites are Greatest Songs Radio, which contains a mixture of hits from the last five decades, and M Live, which plays high-quality concert recordings. Ness Radio There are many reasons to be enamoured of this alternative music station from Marrakech, Morocco. To name a few: Expect to hear everything from mid-Seventies Miles Davis to Californian soul to French hip hop and beyond.
WBCQ Founded in by the free speech campaigner and pirate radio operator Allan Weiner, WBCQ broadcasts in short-wave and online from a small town in New England, and aims to give "access to the airwaves for those who are unable to broadcast on traditional media". The result is a melting pot of country music, amusingly oddball speech programmes, and occasional bursts of genius - like the Simpsons star Harry Shearer's Le Show, which is syndicated on Sundays at midnight GMT Brooklyn Radio Over the last decade or so, the New York borough of Brooklyn has become a byword for urban chic, with hordes of hip young millennials moving in and setting up shop.
Whether such large-scale "hipsterification" is an entirely good thing is up for debate; but this compellingly fine music station is testament to the creatives juices that are aflow. Rather than a live feed, it offers a wide range of downloadableand-streamable DJ mixes spanning funk, old-skool hip hop, featuring LL Cool J, dance, punk and beyond. Irish Radio International Given that an estimated 80 million people worldwide claim some level of Irish descent, this independent radio station could potentially have a bigger audience than all of the BBC networks combined.
Its schedules are lively, varied and winningly homespun, with Irish-themed documentaries, dramas, film reviews and music shows.