Radio rises again

Published On:
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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Song, commercial, song, commercial, song that doesn’t really fit in, another commercial. Everyone has gotten used to commercial radio over the years, but radio doesn’t always have to fold neatly inside a tight, lucrative, inoffensive little box. Meet Radio Free Phoenix.

“We are doing the kind of radio we can no longer do on FM waves,” says Andy Olson, RFP pioneer and local radio DJ. “This allows people like me, who have this in their blood, to do what we want.”

Now playing: Jackson Browne’s “Time The Conqueror.”

Internet radio stations are on the rise. RFP can be listened to for free at radiofreephoenix.com. RFP officially debuted Aug. 2004 and was graced with the title “Phoenix New Time’s Internet Radio Station of the Year” for 2007. It’s easy to see why.

RFP is commercial free and takes in donations and volunteers, the only way the station brings in money. “There’s deep musical history here,” Olson says. RFP throws on rock, folk, blues, psychedelic, new wave, Americana, progressive and new music too, according to their Web site.
“We play so much new music, because new music is the new hope,” Olson says.

Now playing: Billy Joel’s “Roberta.”

According to their Web site, “RFP was created in response to the dwindling freedom of expression on the FM airwaves.” Many former and current local DJs are involved with this, such as Olson of classic rock station KSLX and Liz Boyle, formerly of KSLX and currently of oldies station KOOL-FM.

A majority of the staff members were DJs of the former KSTM, The Storm, a radio station that had folded in the late 80s. They are still friends, and had decided to round up their own radio station. A few were also a part of the original KZON that now plays hip-hop, or something like that, at 101.5 FM. One came from National Public Radio at 91.5 FM and one came from KEDJ, The Edge, at 103.9 FM, most likely when it was still 106.3 FM.

Now playing: Doobie Brother’s “Cotton Mouth.”

RFP also offers “Radio Freedom.” Every Saturday at 5 p.m., and Sunday at 3p.m., RFP lets listeners be the DJ for 15 songs. This idea was rooted in earlier shows like 9 O’clock Jock at KSTM and Citizen’s Band KZON.

Listeners, who must be Phoenix residents or visitors, send in their song list along with an explanation of why they want to have their song played on RFP to freedom@radiofreephoenix.com. Volunteers DJs choose anything from The Clash to The B52s to Wilco.

Now playing: David Bowie’s “Cracked Actor.”

Reach the reporter at lauren.cusimano@asu.edu.