Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quality Online Classic Radio

In my last posting I wrote about Radio Riel Dieselpunk, which I stated failed to live up to its name and was overall very poor. But since I like to keep things positive, this time I’m going to recommend some sources for quality online classic radio programming.

Before I start it’s important to note that none of the providers listed here portray themselves as "dieselpunk." All of them are clear that what they provide are classic productions from the 1920's - 1940's.

Online Libraries
One of the most impressive online libraries of diesel era classics is "Pilsner Picks." All of the choices at Pilsner Picks are free with a new song list ever month. According to Pilsner Panther he has an outstanding collection of over 12,000 vintage sound recordings so his material is always fresh.

One of the most unusual and fascinating online libraries is an archive of a show, which is no longer produced, called "The Secret Museum of the Air." In this hour long show Citizen Kafka and curator Pat Conte play some of the rarest and sometimes oddest recordings from the diesel era that you will ever hear.

What had originally been part of the radio station WAMU in Washington DC, the online radio station Bluegrass Country has a program hosted by music scholar Dick Spottswood, which he calls the "Obsolete Music Hour." His show, which actually runs for two hours, highlights folk culture in the United States with an emphasis on 1920s through 1950s.

Finally, for classic radio shows there’s the "Old Time Radio Fan." At OTRF one will find recordings of classic radio shows such as Gang Busters, Philip Marlowe and Dragnet.

Streaming Online Radio Stations

But if you would rather just sit back and let the broadcast stream there are several good options available to you.

If your interest is in old time radio shows then a good option is "Yesterday USA Radio Network." YUSA, which was founded in 1983 by Bill Bragg, is the worldwide voice of the non-profit National Museum of Communications. The station is also non-profit and is funded entirely by contributions from its listeners. The YUSA station is operated by an all-volunteer staff.

For music primarily of the 1920’s and 1930’s without a doubt one has to pick "Radio Dismuke." According to the Radio Dismuke site the station, "features original recordings from the 1925 - 1935 decade and can be heard at no cost from anywhere in the world by anyone with an Internet connection and a sound card equipped computer."

Another good choice is "The 1920’s Radio Network." This wonderful station broadcasts classic swing and big band 24 hours a day commercial free with just a break at the top of each hour to give their station ID and the fact that it is indeed the top of the hour.

For music primarily from the 1940’s and with more of an emphasis on classic swing and big band the best choice is the Menlo-Atherton High School radio station in Atherton, Ca, KCEA 89.1.

For diesel era classic streaming I highly recommend "Stay Tuned America." STA is an excellent station that broadcasts diesel era classics such as Big Band and Swing 24/ 7. But it’s more than just streaming music. They also have guess DJ’s who offer specialty program with specific themes.

If your interest is classic jazz then I recommend the "Swiss Internet Radio Service – Radio Crazy." The SIRS site states that, "RadioCrazy Classical&Jazz is a non-profit organization and one of the largest Internet radio services in Switzerland."

One simply can’t think of the diesel era without including the Blues. The best online source of classic blues that I’ve found is "Pandora Radio." Pandora uses the Music Genome Project to tailor its music to your preference. After entering an artist name or genre of music Pandora generates a station to match. As the music plays the site will ask you for feedback on each song through a simple check box. Over time the choice of songs will be tailored closer and closer to fit your preference. You can create any number of stations to match any preference you have at any time. There are only two downsides to Pandora. It’s not completely commercial free in that it does interrupt occasionally with a very brief product commercial. Plus, there are reports that if you listen for a too long period of time that it will expect you to sign up for a paid subscription though I’ve listened for hours straight and I’ve never been asked.

So there are some choices for quality online diesel era music by stations that are honest about the services they offer. All of them are for the most part commercial free with, in most cases, no subscription fees. These stations are available online 24 hours a day either live or archived as podcasts. In my next post I’m going to write about how one can find real dieselpunk music online. So stay tuned.


Talooster said...

Thanks for this list! Some gems in there I hadn't seen before.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

I'm glad you found my list of sites helpful, Talooster.

Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to post your comments.