That number might sound like a lot and seem even larger if one goes through the table I created without narrowing it down or organizing it in some manner. On the other hand, consider how many cities and towns there are just in the English-speaking parts of North America, each one deserving of its own voice and sound. Then consider that even the smallest radio markets have five or ten frequencies allocated to them and…well, suddenly, 156 doesn’t seem like a lot.
However, let’s say there are another 156 good radio stations out there that do not have a website or a stream, have a poor-sounding stream I rejected, or that I simply missed even though I tried as hard as possible to be extremely thorough especially once I realized that I was only going to end up with stations in the United States of America and Canada. That’s still only 312 good radio stations. Fill up the frequencies allocated to the greater New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago markets with those good stations and there would pretty much be none left for anybody else. Thus, even 312 would not be a lot of “good” radio stations in the grand scheme of things in countries as large and diverse as the United States and Canada.
Now, don’t misunderstand me about what I mean by “good” even though I did avoid formats that I do not care for such as hip-hop, adult contemporary, and some others. “Good” is as much independence of some sort as it is the music that is being played. Yeah, I like “classic rock” (for one example) but it’s not really “good” if they have a limited playlist and, most importantly, don’t interact and reflect the local community in any significant manner. So, while I might listen to and generally tolerate K-TURD while driving through Bumfuck, Arizona, it’s not necessarily “good” and certainly not worth going out of one’s way to listen to over the Internet when there are so many other choices including Shoutcast, Pandora, and one’s own mp3 collection. This is especially true if the fictional K-TURD is being programmed from some far away city or even pumping in its music from afar and using voice-tracking instead of having somebody in the actual station itself selecting and playing it.
Of course, no station is perfect and never has been no matter how much many of us might pine for the old days of the favorite radio frequencies of our youth. There are some that made my list that are controlled by big corporations, use automation at night (even non-commercial stations), and run programming from sources outside of the station. Still, each one on my list had something special enough about it to warrant inclusion — maybe a station special only to me such as a couple I listed in the Sacramento market where I went to junior high and high school or just something to offer a little variety in a certain format in case the first one somebody chooses is not to their liking.
Whatever the real number of “good” radio stations remaining in North America truly is, they are a relative precious few and always under constant pressure to sell out in one way or another. This is true of even the college stations that are more and more becoming corrupted by the influence of record companies that want to create a buzz on campuses all over the country for whatever fabricated “alternative” group they have decided to push down everybody’s throats.
So…enjoy the list and all of these stations while they last. It will change over time. Stations will be added as I discover them and others will be dropped when they change formats or begin to suck. This number of 156 is by no means set in concrete anywhere other than within this particular entry because it is the starting point…not to mention that 156 is not even fully correct as seven of them are currently Internet-only stations.
Just about everything else one might need to know about the list (with a little general information thrown in for those outside of North America) is up at the beginning of the Radio page which will always be linked at the top anywhere within this site as well as in my general radio links section in the right-hand navigation bar.