Radio Stations – New York City

Radio has had a resurgence in my world and now I live in a new country it’s taken on a greater significance.

The H1B gets up around 6am and we stream BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, which also starts at 6am UK time five hours before. If I have woken up from a particularly deep slumber, I often don’t realise I am actually in the USA until my Twinnings Earl Grey won’t brew properly even when the tea bag has been in the cup for five minutes (why is that?).

>> Read below for recommended American radio stations… there is a point to this blog, I promise…

Once the H1B has gone off to work with a kiss and a “goodbye dear” (so Mad Men), I tune into Women’s Hour, which is easily the best female-focused discussion forum across any media, including magazines and those ghastly patronising chat shows (though Jezebel is a good online contender).

I will be honest, however, and say I also like it because I daydream about being, in another life, as clever and cool and so exquisitely tough, challenging and school-marm-patronising as Jenni Murray is with difficult politicians and other smug people*.

Sarah Lund's covertable Scandiknit is no barrier to her professionalism

Today’s highlights included a segment on Scandiknits and why they are on-trend (thanks to The Killing and Sarah Lund), and why there are no women in this year’s shortlist for BBC Sportsperson of the Year Award.

Then, just before I feel irreversibly middle-aged, I turn to 6 Music, which specialises in making mid-30 somethings feel ‘with it’ and hip by playing music from the days when there were (slightly more) ‘with it’ and hip.

And when I’ve listened to Lauren Laverne, and Steve Lamacq is getting a bit esoteric for my liking, I tune into Classic FM for some soothing, attention-span-friendly pieces of old music while I and get the cheese and biscuits ready for the H1B’s return.

So, then, radio keeps me in contact with home and also makes me feel a little bit more at home in this new city of ours.


However, I appreciate it’s slightly pathetic to cling to the old country quite so strongly; listening to streamed music from across the Atlantic like a homesick Jack Russell staring forlornly into a cylinder phonograph (he was called Nipper by the way), so I’ve been investigating New York and national radio stations.

Here are some I’ve found so far (please suggest more if you have some favourites):

  • News, current affairs and worthy music – no ads: WNYC AM 820/FM 93.9 (part of BBC World service – so a bit of a cheat)
  • Old school hits, funk and R&B: WBLS FM107.5
  • Classical: WQXR FM105.9

An Australian friend of mine who used to live in New York recommends This American Life, which is a radio station that is hard to define. On their about us page, it says: “One of our problems from the start has been that when we try to describe This American Life in a sentence or two, it just sounds awful. For instance: each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. That doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio, and it’s our show.”

Sounds pretty intriguing; I’m game. Although you have to hunt them down as they appear on different frequencies on different days (que?):

New York WNYC 820 AM S 12:00 PM
New York WNYC 93.9 FM S 9:00 PM
New York WNYC 93.9 FM Su 7:00 PM

I’m sure I’ll stream them online instead.

*Jenni Murray is also my hero because at a tender age I appeared on WH to speak about maternity fashion. I was nervous (knowing my mother and her gym friends were listening), and talked about John Lennon‘s maternity range when I meant the department store John Lewis. Murray laughed graciously like I’d said something very witty and that I’d said it on purpose to prove a point.


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