I will always have a soft place for college radio. From the experimental nature to the lack of commercially successful music, college radio is a place where you’ll likely find something you’re unfamiliar with. Nine minute songs won’t find a home on regular radio, yet it might on a student-run station.
My love for college radio might come from memories of co-hosting a show with a friend, Nicole O’Neal, on Indiana University’s WIUX low-power station. The agency to select any song was tremendous, a freedom that you’ll only find on college or community radio. I was still blogging at the time, so I brought in new or unreleased songs, and my friend invited musicians to perform live on our show.
Though fewer people listen to radio stations (this is assumed, given the increased ways to stream music), I still see them as relevant. Each station reaches thousands of people, and you can listen to a live stream of most college radio stations (TuneIn offers many of these streams). It’s difficult to know how many people are listening at a given time, but you can be assured that people are tuning in.
College and Community Radio Stations Map
As a manager of a project I co-produce and engineer, I compiled a rather large list of college and community radio stations in North America in a spreadsheet (many of these report to NACC). I then plotted over 350 of these stations on a Google map, titled College and Community Radio Stations. Thanks to Google’s information, most stations in this list have websites, phone numbers, and addresses.
The purpose behind the list and map was so we could use this to plan tours, set up in-person radio performances or interviews, promote shows, and submit our music to the music directors. Each station is placed in a regional layer that can be shown or hidden. Tap on a dot to view details of each radio station, or expand a regional layer in the legend to see a list of stations. (Yes, I can be obsessive.) This map is incomplete, particularly the community radio stations and internet radio streams, so please contact me if you want us to add a station (or remove one that is no longer live). It’s my hope that you’ll find this map useful.
Note: you can copy the map to create your own, or download the data (in KML/KMZ format).
24/7 Live Streams on YouTube
Considering that we are spending less time in the car, due to the pandemic, and spending more time at home, YouTube live music streams are becoming increasingly common (you’ll also find music streams on Twitch). These streams act in similar ways as college radio stations, playing music that might not find a home on commercial radio. They lack commercial breaks, and don’t have DJs introducing songs (for better or worse).
Why would you want to listen to a live stream when you could listen to a Spotify radio stream, or a playlist? These streams continue non-stop, and you’ll hear new artists you haven’t heard. They’re not based on your listening habits, so these stations will feel fresh. I enjoy putting them on in the background while I’m working on something, or streaming them on my phone while I’m driving.
Here are six live music feeds playing bedroom pop, dream pop, lo-fi, indie sounds:
Indie & Folk Radio has three live streams, each with a different flavor.
Bedroom Pop | Surf Rock | Lo-Fi | Indie
Dream Pop | Indie Rock | Indie Folk | Lo-Fi Bedroom
Folk | Americana | Singer-Songwriter
Nice Guys, a label based in Paris, has amassed a large number of singles (they also have publishing deals with these artists), and their live stream is quite terrific.
Indie / Bedroom / Pop / Surf Rock – 24/7 Radio – Nice Guys Chill FM
You might also enjoy one of six live streams from College Radio. These are designed specifically for low-key listening. One of them has been streaming since 2016.
Or try Ignoreradio Shoegaze, a 24/7 stream of shoegaze, dreampop, and ambient music. This stream isn’t on YouTube, but you can look ahead and see what they’re going to play.
(Am I missing an obvious stream? Let me know in the comment section below.)
Launching your own music live stream
If you’re curious about how to set up a live stream, this video explains the steps really well.
As you can imagine, you will need the proper licensing if you wish to do this correctly. We all want artists to be paid for their work. This article explains some of the licensing you’ll need to consider.