Top 10 Influential College Radio Stations

College RadioCollege radio stations may like to stay underground and not receive a lot of publicity, but they are actually very influential in the music world. There is a very good chance that new hit song was playing on college radio station months before it become popular. While there are hundreds of great college radio stations throughout the country, these are the ten most influential.





When it comes to college radio stations, they do not get any more influential than the University of Washington’s KEXP 90.3 FM. KEXP has become so popular throughout the country that they are regularly able to get some of the biggest bands in the world to perform live on the air. The radio station built a dedicated following by being one of the first radio stations in the country to offer live streaming and an archived list of every performance on the station.



There may not be a more popular college radio station with students than Emerson College’s WERS 88.9 FM. While WERS has the resources of a commercial radio station, it is still entirely run by the students of Emerson College. While the radio station currently specializes in independent music, they also have some interesting specialty shows on the weekends. “Standing Room Only” plays the best songs from Broadway every weekend, and it has rapidly become the most popular musical theater radio show in the New England area.



St. Bonaventure’s WSBU 88.3 FM has been around since 1948, which makes it one of the oldest college radio stations in the country. WSBU prides itself on playing a wide variety of music without almost no interruptions, which helped it be named the best college radio station in the country by Princeton Review in 2012. WSBU continues to do great things every year despite only having a signal strength to reach a 20 mile radius around the campus. If you do not live in the St. Bonaventure area but would still like to hear WSBU 88.3 FM, then you can check them out online.



WGRE 91.5 FM has been bringing great music to Greencastle, Indiana, since 1949. The radio station boosts such a diverse playlist that they do not have a set program schedule. While you may not know what you are going to hear next on WGRE, the next song is almost certain to become a hit. When you have 200 DePauw University students running the radio station, it is almost guaranteed that WGRE is going to find the newest music craze before anyone else.



Portland State University’s KPSU 98.1 FM has become one of the most influential college radio stations in the United States by making their DJs more accessible and their weekly show “Live Friday.” Everyone that listens to KPSU can get unprecedented access to the DJs by live chatting with them while the music is playing. KPSU also supports the great local music scene in Portland by allowing one band to perform a live set on the station every Friday.



While most college radio stations dedicate a vast majority of their time to alternative and independent rock music, Ithaca University’s WICB 91.7 FM is not afraid to play some great hip-hop. There are currently 19 hours of hip-hop on the weekly schedule of WICB in addition to the traditional college radio music. This makes WICB a great station to listen to if you are looking for the next great underground hip-hop artist to hit it big.



Appalachian State University’s WASU 90.5 FM has quickly established a niche as the best college radio station dedicated exclusively to low-key rock music. While they play songs from the biggest bands in the genre, WASU also a knack for discovering some great bands before everyone else due to their dedication for the genre. If you are in the mood for some low-key indie rock, then you should check out Appalachian State’s radio station.



WPTS 92.1 FM has the look of a commercial radio station, but it is still run by the students of the University of Pittsburgh. All of the student DJs at WPTS are hoping to become radio DJs following college, so the station is extremely polished and well run. The University of Pittsburgh wants to expose their DJs to every music genre, so WPTS will play any song at any time. If you want to hear one of the next great radio DJs, then you can listen to WPTS online at



North Carolina State’s WKNC 88.1 FM has quickly become one of the best and most influential college radio stations because of the unique event they run every Thursday night. WKNC runs a “Local Band, Local Beer” event for free every Thursday night to expose everyone in the area to the great local bands of North Carolina. In addition to their great marketing, WKNC also plays great music from up-and-coming hip-hop, metal and indie rock artist.

10. WCWS


The College of Wooster’s WCWS 90.9 FM dates back to 1922 when several students built their own radio transmitter. The music featured on WCWS is pretty typical for most college radio stations with specialty shows dedicated to a specific genre. While the College of Wooster’s WCWS may not get much attention outside of Ohio, it remains one of the most influential college radio stations.

photo by: YuvalH