In recent days, music consumption has gleefully lent itself to the internet’s automated impulse. Even listening to songs on YouTube—like 42% of people aged 18 to 24—is becoming an uninvited game of chess, as auto-playing suggestions bookend every stream and almost always fuck up the vibe. Still, human music selectors—or DJs, as they were known in an earlier time—are working online as if nothing has changed. Web radio stations operate in peaceful opposition to the Internet’s commercial forces, choosing simply not to participate in it. Much like the pirate radio stations of previous generations, online channels are finding ways to disturb the consumer-friendly model for music, replacing it with something human and unpredictable.
It’s easy to imagine the world slipping into some dystopia where decisions belong to an all-seeing algorithm. Listening to a real person over the internet has a way of calming that anxiety, so here are some of the best online radio shows for when those "next" recommendations are too off, or worse, too on.
Cooking With Palm Trax
Berlin Community Radio, Mondays 11:00a
If we’re on the subject of algorithms, a YouTube search for Berlin-based producer Palms Trax sends you down an experimental house K-Hole that itself is a treat. On his Berlin Community Radio show, though, Palms Trax hits you with the unexpected. The undulating beats that characterize his Detroit-ready production are still present, but at the forefront is a roster of sounds undetectable by any data set. Some episodes are heavy on UK Garage; others find inspiration in West African disco. Imagine if producers had control over the suggested playlists next to their songs, then tune in and hear it come to life.
Know-Wave, Check Instagram incessantly to find out when?
There’s something undeniably political about the kids in Know-Wave’s UK/NY crossover show Gully Type. The show is hosted by a rotating group of young creatives living in London and Manhattan, offering up a perspective that rejects London’s own popular influences. You won’t hear a Disclosure track on this show—instead acts like Gucci Mane, Section Boyz and Sporting Life dominate the Gully Type playlists, along with twisted rave remixes and ground-level grime.
NTS Radio, Wednesdays 7:00p (Monthly)
On the 4-year-old London station NTS Radio, Boiler Room’s creative director Sofie Fatouretchi treks through whatever she’s feeling that week with SOS Radio. It's usually linked to some beyond-FOMO excursion to the musical destinations in locales like Berlin, Moscow, and Tokyo. More than any one scene, it’s a show about personal connection: Sofie invites various friends and collaborators that make each episode a uniquely entertaining and educational experience. Tune in and you might find Sofie digging through blues records before transitioning into modern dancehall—perfect for anyone looking to feel surprised by music again.
Horse Meat Disco
Rinse.fm, Sundays 1:00p
DJs James Hillard, Filthy Luka, Severino and Jim Stanton have run the party collective Horse Meat Disco since 2003. Known for their raucous atmosphere and sonically disparate music selections, HMD hops between classic disco, ethereal techno, Italo, house, and something described as “punk-funk,” with blissful precision. Their show on London-based former pirate station Rinse.fm is basically a giant dance party every Sunday afternoon.
East Village Radio, Saturdays 10:00p
Ballers Eve has been going strong in NYC for over a decade now, supplying the entire city with the southern twang it deserves. On EVR, newly revived for web radio app Dash Radio, J.Dirrt and the Ballers Eve collective resurrect their infamous mid-2000s show with the same carefree vibes that characterize an entire region's rap history.
The Phuture Perfect
Dublab, First Mondays 4:00p
Detroit’s Zøraya has been DJing and putting on club nights for nearly a decade, influenced by the utopian future identity of the '90s Detroit underground. The Phuture Perfect, on the experimental station Dublab, is a sonic trip through time, taking you to some sector of the music future we haven’t seen yet before gently returning to the present. The trip runs every month, no algorithms required.