Rochester Indie Radio

My interest in radio goes back to making mixtapes as a kid, which unexpectedly led into deejaying at SUNY Geneseo’s WGSU and producing shows at 96.5 WCMF. Lately, that interest has been satisfied by podcasts — both by listening to and creating them. These days, I hardly listen to radio at all because I have a phone filled with a backlog of cool podcast conversations to keep my ears busy.

But now there’s a pendulum swing towards terrestrial radio happening in my hometown. In the last year, Rochester has birthed three new independent radio stations. Why? Perhaps as a reaction to the corporatization of radio in general (they all seem to be owned by the same few companies, constricted by advertising and narrow formats). Or maybe it’s more in line with the maker movement — in a digital era, people are looking for tangible, real world ways to be creative.

My initial reaction when I heard there’d be new indie radio stations was excitement: “What kind of show should I sign up to do?” And then I remembered that it takes a lot of time and effort, and I’m stretched pretty thin. Plus, isn’t it a step backwards, given the versatility and reach of podcasting? If I have a broadcasting itch to scratch, why not just dust off the Mad Dog Movies Podcast? Why doesn’t EVERYBODY just podcast? It’s easier than ever with services like Soundcloud and Mixcloud to help those without websites.

I suppose being on a radio station offers the network effect — audiences will find you by accident after tuning in for something else. The station acts like an aggregator — “You like this content? How about this, too?” That’s something that a podcast alone doesn’t do. Not unless you join forces with other podcasts, working to build each others audiences, which I’ve seen done.

One other thing to consider is that new live radio doesn’t require a radio. Each of these stations also broadcasts via the internet, and WXIR even serves via the Tune-In app.

Anyhow, here’s a run-down of the new (old) media in town.

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WAYO 104.3 FM | LISTEN ONLINE

WAYO was first out of the gate, with hip crowdfunding campaigns and art-centric personalities. One frustrating thing for me personally was that they were moving into the Fedder Industrial Park while I was moving out. It would have been darn tempting to do a show if I had kept my office there.

Many DJs archive their shows using Mixcloud, and they’re featured on the website. Here’s an example of Eggwork Radio from my friend Matthew Ehlers:


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WRFZ 106.3 FM | LISTEN ONLINE

Rochester Free Radio is a little more political in nature. I get the impression it’s more talk than music, and many of those shows are available as downloads at archive.org.

Their website offers personal blogs from their talent, including the Fresh Toones Music Show from my friend Dave Puls. Dave went on to make a Youtube video from his first show also.


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WXIR 100.9 FM | LISTEN ONLINE

An offshoot of public access television RCTV 15, this is the latest one to launch.  I admire what they’re doing there. Rochester Movie Makers has had a good relationship with RCTV in the last several years, and they have a great facility there with a motivated community.

No archives are listed on the site, but show pages often have links to outside websites where hosts can post their content. For instance, here’s a recent episode of the Rockabilly N Blues Radio Hour with James Riley.


Will I keep listening? It all comes down to habit. I’ll have to dial in some radio time while working or driving and see if anything sticks.

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