WFMU is a Jersey City, New Jersey freeform radio station. It's awesome. In NJ it's at 91.1
It broadcasts at 128kbps live on the internet, and all shows are archived for 2 weeks as 128 kbps mp3s, and archived forever. Old archives are in real format (ugh) but newer ones (within the last few years) are in mp3.
They're completely non-commercial - no commercials, no sponsorship, underwriting etc. No central part of the station exerts any control over what is played, beyond FCC requirements. The station manager, Ken, pretty much seems to just pick people, give them shows, and then not mess with them at all. Once you have your time you can do anything you want. And listening to shows you can tell that DJs really do have that freedom.
http://wfmu.org/recentarchives.php has the last week's worth of shows.
Since I've discovered WFMU I've listened to it about 12 hours a day. It's great.
On regular radio you tend to hear all different moods of music mixed together, all from the same era, and all popular. Selection is based on era and popularity, disregarding mood. WFMU shows tend to have a consistent mood and since the DJs are so knowledgeable about music, they disregard popularity. So 90% of WFMU music is stuff I've never heard before, yet it still sounds like it goes together pretty well.
After a while you realize that so-called pop music is just a tiny slice of all the music out there, and that just chance/bribery has determined who got big and who didn't. Behind every popular group there are 10 groups just as good who just didn't happen to make it and were mostly forgotten. Hearing those guys can be great.
The DJs aren't proudly amateurish like college radio, but aren't annoyingly smooth either.
Also, not having commercials means I don't have to switch stations every 20 minutes.
Shows I listen to every week
I've been listening to this show for years. Nowadays he has interviews with comedians (todd barry, tim & eric etc.), in addition to the usual callers, and funny stuff. It's so NJ. He plays music and does funny stuff on the radio. Sometimes he interviews strange people. Also some regulars call all the time: some he likes such as Petey (a 14 year old boy), Officer Tom (a NJ cop), No-smokin joe (formerly smokin joe), and people he doesn't like such as Skag Winesack (a houseboat living sax playing former detective on the wrong side of the law), Philly Boy Roy, the Gorch, etc. He also does "unfair record reviews" where he talks over and disses some indie record. I'm gradually listening to the archives. It can be kind of slow sometimes but often is great. My favorite show ever was the one featuring "Woodsy" and "captain catchphrase"
Comedy talk show Totally un-slick. Sort of funny. Sometimes. Unfortunately I know their personalities well enough now that I am hooked.
During the Monica Lewinsky thing, they decided to do a survey. They'd randomly call people, who would have to say whether they support or oppose Clinton's resignation. Then, they'd ask the person to rate their level of support for this position on this scale:
I laughed SO hard at the "keep the caller on the phone show". Fucking hilarious. It's a game where they'd alternate calling random numbers and trying to keep the person on the phone as long as they can. The restriction was that they could only say 10 words in the first minute. After that the other guy got to cut in and say 5 words to try to get the person off the phone. Whoever kept the random person on the phone the longest won. Listen to "Stay on the Phone in 10 words or less"
Lately the show has been pretty spotty. Since I am used to the hosts it's still pretty fun to listen to though.
spacey instrumental modern classical late night music. This was the first show on wfmu I loved.
This is what you think of when you hear "freeform radio". A mix of mashups, unauthorized wrong genre remixes, hyper japanese children's music themes, etc. Death Metal versions of 80s pop hits. The DJ is English and has a great voice and a meandering DJ style. Awesome. My favorite recent show of hers was when she played this guy "carl stone"'s remixes of pop songs into droney beats / classical style songs.
A guy with a really fake (???) german accent who plays orchestral death metal. Lots of King Diamond, which is great. In between, he proposes a poem topic and listeners call in and recite their poems. The topic is usually incredibly blasphemous, such as "imagine baby jesus is transparent. what message would you write on a paper to go with him as you cast him adrift on the ocean?". Lately he has not been allowed to talk about jesus so much.
Country music. lately has a tendency to play lots of 20s and 30s stuff. When she plays her favorites from the last 50 years it's great. Has a nice theme song too. Her labor day shows are great. Other shows can be kind of boring.