The 25 Best College Radio Stations

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Nobody listens to radio anymore, right? Spotify this, Rhapsody that... there’s a large and growing number of internet streaming services that offer personalized stations, DJ-free programming, and hours upon hours of static-free listening bliss. Why would anyone with a stable internet connection actually choose to listen to an old-fashioned radio station? At least among the music and internet savvy, radio is so late '90s.

But it’s not dead. It’s just underground. For college radio stations, being underground is nothing new, it’s kind of their thing. College radio has been thriving under the radar for years, and has served as a springboard for some truly great artists. Artists like R.E.M. and Nirvana, or more recently Toro y Moi and The Local Natives were a mainstays of college radio long before they hit the masses. College radio is often full decades ahead of mainstream radio, and sometimes even comes out ahead of the internet. If you want to hear what’s going to be popular in a few weeks, months, or even years, tune into a great college radio station and listen to something you’ve never heard before.

At 6:00 PM on a friday night you may turn the dial and get an earful of death metal, but 30 minutes later hear a folk show DJed by a girl with a voice so tiny and squeaky that she surely has a vitamin deficiency. College radio has its quirks, but there are some seriously phenomenal stations out there, most of which have their very own internet streams. No need to bust out the old transistor, just hit up the stream or download the iHeartRadio app.

But where do we start? There are tons of colleges, and many have multiple stations. Surely you can’t be expected to wade through hours of sub-par stations to find that one golden station that played Youth Lagoon six months before anybody else did? Ain’t nobody got time for that! So we took the time for you.

Here are the 25 best college radio stations in the nation.

Click to start the list

  • Glen

    This is a good list, but you should have included KTSW 89.9 at Texas State University

  • http://twitter.com/TamTruong Tam Truong

    this is great but i am sad that my favorite local station kcrw (santa monica college) didn’t make the list

  • http://twitter.com/themightygman G-Man

    88.7 WPSC William Paterson University Wayne NJ, I learned radio there and had 3 shows when I attended. Should be on the list. recently they started the now nationwide College Radio Day.

  • Dragonfly Jones

    88.5 WRAS ATL definitely top 10.

  • http://twitter.com/LPsometimes LP

    KVRX also has a weekly live band show like the Portland station. They release comps of recordings every year and have hosted some big names (usually before they were very big). I think the stations that have little involvement don’t belong on this list, especially not KEXP, duh.

  • David

    Not including Album 88 (88.5, the 100,00 watt voice of Georgia State University) is just stupid. There is no way this list is credible without that station on it.

  • rummuds

    Hey just an fyi.. I love this website but the pop up video ads cannot happen again. Had to close it each time I clicked next

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.schechter1 Mike Schechter

    On what planet is KEXP college radio? It is located miles from campus and has zero student involvement. How is it different in relationship to the university than KUOW and it’s NPR programming. UW students formed and pay for an internet station that is actually college radio.

  • Willb

    you really shafted Bates College. Oldest student-run college radio station in the nation.

  • Dano

    kdvs 90.3 in davis, CA best radio station I have ever heard, always surprises me to this day

  • Emily

    You stated that WSBU broadcast’s from it’s campus in New Jersey, however St. Bonaventure University is located in the Southern Tier of New York State, between the small towns of Olean and Allegany.

  • manny

    CJSW 90.9 cmon son

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.glendenning De Anna Glendenning

    Where is the link to the station, the link above does not work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melaneux Mel Ziggy Bee

    KSPC!! and KXLU are missing!

  • DG

    List should have definitely included WBRU 95.5 Brown University.

  • Chill Brah

    get adblocker son you won’t need to deal with that before youtube videos either

  • X

    You guys were just trying to stir some shit with this list, right? There’s no way you really think you looked into every college radio station and ranked them, right? RIGHT?

  • Barry

    I have to wonder if stations where the individuals pictured are well north of 30 years old really count as college radio.

  • kaki

    is this where i’m supposed to plug 90.5 KSJS

  • RawOnions

    Claiming what’s best is pure conjecture.

  • Austin

    Why is it that the #1 ICBS station for 2012, KFJC, didn’t even make your top 25 list? You all gone selectively deaf?

  • ML

    KFJC (SF bay area) not mentioned? Best station ever. Somebody dropped the ball making this list.

  • Maggie

    I think Loyola University radio station should be on this list. They’ve got great music with a variety of shows, and even their website is the cleanest one and easiest to use out of all these radio stations above. wluw.org It was the only thing I listened to when I was in Chicago

  • Don Nasca

    KPSU should be #1, but #10 on earth is pretty damn good :-)

  • Rob S.

    Does WXPN not count? It’s more or less UPenn, and it’s flipping fantastic.