Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 28

Gapers Block

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Craig / December 3, 2003 7:50 AM

DJing radio in college taught me to look left of 92 on the dial for the good stuff...

WLUW 88.7 FM (for my independent music fix, good talk too)
WNUR 89.3 FM (for challenging jazz, rock, and electronic)
WZRD 88.1 (occasionally for some really amateur freeform stuff)
WBEZ (for NPR)

... and "The Drive" for a classic rock injection.

Pete / December 3, 2003 9:14 AM

Currently, only WBEZ. Past favorites were WLUW, WNUR and WZRD (now out of broadcast range from my home) and WXRT way, way back (before they became just another subsidiary of a corporate leviathan).

"And if I don't see you in a long, long while
I'll try to find you left of the dial."

--Paul Westerberg

dce / December 3, 2003 9:29 AM

There was a time when XRT was worth listening to. Every now and again, when I'm stuck in a car and need a bit of music, they still come through.

But they've lost a lot of luster since the became the last major Chicago station to sell out to corporate owners (CBS - better than ClearChannel, but still).

And so, independent radio is relegated to educational stations on the left side of the dial. What would we do without LUW and NUR?

Oh, and to answer the question: I listen to WBEZ with great fervor.

A last tangent: Anyone want to go in on a transmitter? If we could find a good spot for an antenna, and perhaps set up a couple relays, it wouldn't be too difficult to establish Gaper's Block Free Radio.

brian / December 3, 2003 9:45 AM

I actually rarely listen to regular radio, which is odd, because I love it. It's just the radio broke in my car last February, and I just haven't bothered to fix it. The quiet in the car is a nice change of pace.

If I have the radio on, it's usually on WBEZ, though I do like to mix it up with a little Delilah, WFMT, or AM. (Actually, I quite like AM)

The suburban stations WXLC (Lake County) and STAR (McHenry County) are usually a good time, when the reception's good.

But most of the other music stations don't do it for me. None of them - WLUW, The Drive (fuck them I say), Q101, zone blah blah blah. If I want music at home on the radio, I turn to XM, which has been doing quite nicely.

If you're a real radio junkie, satellite is worth the price.

ali / December 3, 2003 9:47 AM

During the week, before 8 p.m., I rarely listen to anything but WBEZ. I listen to the webcast of Democracy Now during Odyssey though, if I'm at work.

After 8, I listen to WLUW and WNUR. I prefer WLUW, possibly because I host a Queer Rock show there on Tuesdays from 6:30-8. (Sorry but I had to do at least a little plug.)

They aren't a Chicago station but WFMU, out of New York, has a great lineup and an internet stream.

Ramsin / December 3, 2003 10:03 AM

Only two: ESPN Radio (WMVP-1000) and WGCI-107.5
The rest is just pabulum.

Naz / December 3, 2003 10:04 AM

WBEZ. Public radio, hell yeah.

WLUW. Especially Radio Free Chicago. Independent college radio hell yeah. Sure it has nothing to do with the fact that my band will be on the air this Thursday at 7pm , la de da de da, doing a live set and interview (hell yes, that's a plug.)

Ian / December 3, 2003 10:08 AM

WLS 890 AM Afternoons
WONC 89.1 FM When available
WNUR 89.3 FM No.1 college radio station according to SPIN magazine, right

SomaFM for all my internet radio needs/a>

Joseph J. Finn / December 3, 2003 10:29 AM

Internet feeds for WLUW, WNUR & WBEZ. The rest can jump off a bridge.

Audrey / December 3, 2003 10:31 AM

Wow, this is a tough crowd. Where do you get your Beyonce fix??

Seriously, WLUW is great on those rare clear-sky, no-wind days when the frequency comes through for me. Otherwise, if I catch XRT on an odd day at an odd hour while balancing on one leg and crossing my fingers, I’ll get a surprise from the Pixies or the Stereophonics (once, I even heard a gem from the Smiths, shhh…).

Speaking of XRT, can someone explain to me how “Sound Opinions” (featuring Kot from the Tribune and that guy from the Sun-Times) not only became a radio show, but is now a tv show on WTTW?? Are they worth watching, let alone listening to, let alone reading in the first place? Ouch.

Lucky for me, my next door neighbor's bagpipes drown out sound altogether.

Murgatroit / December 3, 2003 10:33 AM

WBEZ a lot. the NPR feeds are good, this american life is always fun, the jazz is, erm, swingin (i'm ashamed to say the host on Sunday afternoon jazz is a little painful though).

WLUW. Monday evenings especially. Lots of fun post-punky, technoey, new wavey stuff.

WJMK. Ech. This is when I can't find anything else on the dial, and can't reach for a tape; usually when they're not playing commercials they'll have a good *old school* tune.

jima / December 3, 2003 11:01 AM

WBEZ, all the time. And for my Internet radio, it's gotta be WFMU (for obvious reasons).

shechemist / December 3, 2003 12:37 PM

WNUR, and WBEZ when I am feeling all pointy headed which is most of the time.

WCKG, Steve Dahl's show specifically, when I get home for work and can't be arsed to take in anymore information.

Miranda / December 3, 2003 12:44 PM

WBEZ. Obsessively. But what I really miss is Philly's WXPN. Now *that's* a great (member supported) station.

stephen / December 3, 2003 12:55 PM

WBEZ, WLUW, and rarely XRT. When I am on the internet device I ring up KCRW out of Cali. Morning Becomes Eclectic and Chocolate City are fuggen great. Plus they have archived videos of performances, including a great one from Postal Service.

Shylo / December 3, 2003 1:17 PM

Y'all are suckaz. The best thing to listen to is KCRW. This Santa Monica public radio station totally trumps WBEZ's limited music programming, featuring shows Morning Becomes Eclectic, Chocolate City, and Metropolis. Listen!

jima / December 3, 2003 1:42 PM

KCRW also has Harry Shearer's great radio program "Le Show," which has featured some of the wittiest and most incisive political commentary of recent years. It's fallen in quality recently, I think, but Harry still feels quite at liberty to use the show as a sounding board for any topics that interest him. (I also point out that WBEZ carries "Le Show" on Sunday nights.)

Julie / December 3, 2003 2:04 PM

I recently discovered WBEZ and that is all I listen to anymore. I only listen on my commute to and from work however. Everything else is so annoying! My husband tried to get me to listen to Howard Stern, but I can't take all of the stupid naked girl stuff. It's too bad, I think he could have an intelligent radio show if he cut all of the testosterone out of it. I also occasionally put on Steve Dahl but he is so full of himself and the commercial breaks are way too long! Buzz and Wendy need a drive-time show by themselves again.

Michael / December 3, 2003 2:16 PM


I actually just became a member of WBEZ for the first time during the most recent pledge drive. It's amazing, but "This American Life" still continues to draw me in each and every time I listen to it. The stories are just utterly compelling in an old-fashioned kind of way.

mike / December 3, 2003 3:59 PM

like most folks posting WBEZ then XRT when I need some music ... with 2 young kids I don't get to buy let alone shop for much music (nor have the time to listen outside my office at work or the commute)I crave the XRT of old where I could get a fix of new and eclectic stuff that was chosen by real live DJs.

daruma / December 3, 2003 4:23 PM

I agree with dce & Mike...I used to listen to XRT all the time but now they seem to play a lot of sucky music. Now I just listen to the radio to win contests...I won a cell phone and a year of free service from US-99.

Andrew / December 3, 2003 10:25 PM

Yep, WBEZ, then XRT, Q101 or LUW, depending on what's in range and/or what's playing. I also listen to WDCB (College of DuPage's jazz station) when I'm far enough west.

I can't stand WNUR; I'm just not interested in obscure, difficult-to-listen-to indy, and the atonal free jazz they play in the morning just grates on me.

LD / December 4, 2003 1:04 AM

Can XRT please stop with the Talking Heads "burning down the house" on overplay or some random song like that? I mean they were okay, but come on, do we really need to hear that 20 years later??

Okay, guilty pleasure, sometimes I listen to Howard Stern on CKG, I know he's repulsive, but I can't help it.

BEZ on weekends. I like Mary McPartland's piano show on Sunday mornings...her voice is comforting and she always whips up some tune with her guest.

Ramsin / December 4, 2003 2:35 AM

C'mon, people! I know I'm not the *only* guy here who listens to WGCI. What about those awesome Birthday shout-outs? "Is today your birthday?" "Yeah it is, you know it is!" "And how old are you on this day?" "Fifteen, I'm fifteen!"

gunnar / December 4, 2003 2:41 AM

Digitally Imported (, no there aren't any "true" radio station that I listen too.

armaghetto / December 4, 2003 3:04 AM

I hate what they've done to XPN
A bunch of folk nazis ruined my favorite station.

But seriously folks, WLUW half the time, WBEZ about 22% of the time & WBBM about 98.6% of the time.

Did you know all your radio stations out here start with W's instead of K's??

Jeff / December 4, 2003 4:33 AM

All GbV. All the time.

Wendy / December 4, 2003 9:30 AM

There's this talk radio station I keep hearing in my head. They discuss conspiracy theories a lot and also they give me advice.

I can't stop listening. But you hear it too, right?

Craig / December 4, 2003 9:35 AM

I can't stand WNUR; I'm just not interested in obscure, difficult-to-listen-to indy, and the atonal free jazz they play in the morning just grates on me.

Yes, a lot of the music is quite "challenging", but don't write it all off. There's a few really well-balanced jazz shows that I have heard (a British cat named Flavian Wallace did [does?] a great show on Fridays) and the evening electronic shows are usually really good too. Granted, 'NUR tends to err on the side of obscure pretentiousness, but I would prefer that over immature faux shock-jockery that I have heard on a few of the suburban college stations...

Paul / December 4, 2003 9:42 AM

WMAQ is gonna make me rich!


I used to listen to XRT and WBEZ almost exclusively, with a tinge of the Drive thrown in for good measure. I still tune in to WBEZ now and then via RealPlayer; Colorado Public Radio is good, but there's no Steve Shadley.

Andrew / December 4, 2003 10:35 AM

Craig, if you can pull in WDCB (90.9), I whole-heartedly recommend it over NUR's jazz offerings. Barry Winograd, the guy who does XRT's Jazz Transfusion show Sunday nights, is their mid-day DJ.

WNUR isn't *all* bad. "This is Hell" is good, and their electronica programming is nice, but all the crap in between steers me away. Why listen to pretension with so many alternatives available?

I think XRT has improved a bit this year, actually. Shortly after they were purchased by CBS, they became very formulaic and repetitive, but recently the playlists have become more eclectic again. Sure, they rely a little too heavily on certain bands and are still far from their glory days (and Terri Hemmert's obsession with the Bee-tulls drives me nuts), but they're better than they've been for awhile.

Stewart / December 4, 2003 10:40 AM

WHPK is great for those lucky enough to live within it's relatively small transmission radius, which includes everything south of the Loop and along an east-west corridor going from Midway into the Indiana border. Lots of great shows...rock and electronica in the mornings, jazz and classical in the afternoons and evening, and some truly great international programming at various times during the week.

(disclaimer: I've done a show at WHPK for the past four years. I'd still think it was a great station regardless.)

j3s / December 4, 2003 11:45 AM

Ramsin - the GCI birthday shoutouts are the best! I listen to them and can't help but smile really big and bop along. Every year I resolve to call them on my birthday, even though I'm way too old, and every year I forget.

Most of the radio I listen to is net broadcast, since I don't have a car. My two faves are WDET, Detroit's kickass public radio (, and IF's Cybernetic Broadcasting (

Kevin / December 4, 2003 12:08 PM

I used to listen to WCBR and that station rocked. since it changed to some ass-sucking dance station, I've been buying CDs. XRT is just such a waste of time. My wife and I play a game where we bet on what band will be playing when we switch on XRT. It's not a hard game since our only choices seem to be Tom Petty, Annie Lennox, Poi Dog Pondering or the Pretenders. We make sure to avoid the Terri Hemmert part because that's too easy: The Beatles. God I miss "The Bear".

Ian / December 4, 2003 12:24 PM

Challenging music doesn't equal pretentiousness. Masturbatory drivel, maybe, but not pretentiousness.

cristy claire / December 4, 2003 12:32 PM


They play the most current poppy/punk songs that you hear on MTV. They're like the MTV of radio, but better since they have Mancow in the mornings (so much better than Carson Daly).

brian / December 4, 2003 1:37 PM

kevin - WCBR isn't even an ass-sucking dance station anymore. It's a Spanish broadcast station. Not a big deal, except (I believe) the same station is broadcast across three frequencies. blah.

Alice / December 4, 2003 2:39 PM

The Bear - now there's a station I miss, but I haven't really listened to the radio since the halcyon days of Z95. :) Every time I see Bryant Miller doing the weather on NBC, I still think of him as the Z95 DJ.

Andrew / December 4, 2003 3:06 PM

Holy shit, that's that Brant Miller?! Wow.

Ramsin / December 4, 2003 3:43 PM

Oh man, Z95, the favorite of the house-dancing Assyrian community ca. 1987. Remember when they made that bet with B96, and the loser would get to rename the other station? And Z95 lost, and B96 dubbed them, "The Hell-95"!? That was awesome. They folded like a week later. Way to go, B96.

I remember Brant Miller being on Z95. He wasn't quite as cuddly then.

miss ellen / December 4, 2003 4:36 PM

i still have a Z-95 bumper sticker somewhere; maybe i should bust it out in protest of the current state of radio.

i like the guilty pleasure radio hits when i'm driving around the city; it's fun to get a dash of beyonce in your lives ;) at work, when i'm feeling it, i put on BEZ, but it isn't very often.

Onid / December 4, 2003 4:54 PM

OH GOD!!! Z-95!!! Imagine a car load of Greeks on their way to Medusa's or Ka-boom with Z-95 on the radio and there is Onid sitting on the transmission hump in the middle of the seat!!!

I listen to WBEZ mostly. Howard Stern and Steve Dahl up to a point (I get annoyed after awhile). XRT? Seriously, the Pretenders were good but they play them way too much.

For some reason I need a classic rock "injection" at 5am Sunday morning when I am driving home from the bar. This week it was Trampled Under Foot--Led Zeppelin courtesy of the Loop 97.9.

WLUW 88.7 FM, WNUR 89.3 FM deserve mention also. The scan button is my friend what can I say?

kegz / December 4, 2003 5:18 PM

WGN in the morning and ESPN-1000 on the way home. Plug the porta-mp3 player into the casette deck if I want music.

At home, KEXP and KCRW over the slimp3 player via internet.

tony / December 4, 2003 8:34 PM

I've got a radio station I listen to. I call it "my iPod set to random." Same effect as listening to the radio.

When I do listen to the radio, I use the seek button early and often, but 93.1, 94.7, and 97.9 get me to listen for a song more often than other stations. I'm sure I'd listen to Magic 104.3! almost constantly if they didn't play so many commercials.

christian / December 5, 2003 12:18 AM

XRT, Q101, NUR. I get burned out on the Beatles thing at XRT, but I like the schizophrenic style of programming otherwise. Where else could you hear James Brown fallowed by Bjork and then the white stripes? Q101 for “Alternative” whatever that may be at this moment in time, but never in the morning, god I hate them in the morning. NUR sometimes at night for that messed up rock and dead air that comes along with it sometimes.

Chicago radio in general pisses me off, it all sounds the same from station to station or formats change every few months and everything turns to crap.

The Zone was cool for awhile, when it first came on as “the new alternative” to replace Q101 when they went ‘RAWK!” stealing away some of the best stuff from the former Q101 and XRT, only to change there format to “RAWK!” again.

I listen to a cd when the radio becomes too much to endure. Today Archer Prewitt “three.”

Scott / December 5, 2003 7:50 AM

WBEZ and the drive. When I'm visiting my parents I listen to Downers Grove High School's radio station. All the mistakes the DJ's make are hilarious.

Roni / December 5, 2003 10:25 AM

z-95 rawked...I think I still have tapes somewhere in my junk piles of stuff I recored during high school.

As for now, I listen to 101.9 in the's early morning, my head can't be challenged by Eric & Kathy. Then on the way to work I try to listen to 88.3 - Democracy Now until the signal fades. But I'm a radio station surfer...I listen to whatever station if they have something that I can dance to, sing along with, or learn something from. I'm a free agent.

Blaine Hilton / December 5, 2003 1:52 PM

93.9 The Light in the car. Other then that I really don't listen to music.

anjali / December 5, 2003 2:04 PM

KEXP - independent, commercial-free GREAT music out of Seattle. Over the net - can't recommend it enough...

KEXP Playlist

lynn / December 5, 2003 2:06 PM

WBEZ, baby. And for the record, 91.5 is Chicago Public Radio - that's public radio, not NPR. At WBEZ they broadcast NPR programs (shows produced at various public radio stations & distributed by National Public Radio). WBEZ also broadcasts shows distributed by Public Radio International (another distribution agency, just like NPR... they distribute programs like A Prairie Home Companion). Last but not least, WBEZ broadcasts shows that are produced at the station- like Odyssey, The World, This American Life, Schadenfreud. Some of the locally produced shows are nationally distributed, some are not.
Just wanted to clear things up.

anjali / December 5, 2003 2:07 PM

Sorry -

KEXP Playlist

Andrew / December 5, 2003 2:17 PM

One of the things that didn't make it into Cinnamon's profile of Shawn Campbell and WLUW was that the Chicago radio spectrum is at saturation: no more radio stations can be approved for broadcast in this market. Which is one of the reasons stations change format so often here.

Roni / December 5, 2003 2:39 PM

But why three christmas carol stations? aahhh!!!

holden / December 5, 2003 2:40 PM

RTE 1 (Radio Ireland) on the web. Interesting discussions during the just-past elections.

Andrew / December 5, 2003 4:21 PM

But why three christmas carol stations?

Blame suburban housewives.

LD / December 5, 2003 4:37 PM

How the DJs at 93.9 Lite FM can stand to listen to xmas music round the clock for a month is beyond me. I hope they are getting paid extra.

Craig / December 6, 2003 11:52 AM

That's the "beauty" of automized playlists...

jo / December 7, 2003 3:18 AM

hey ramsin,

"where you from?"


eddie and jobo are still on the air.

timmy / December 7, 2003 4:18 PM

Hey Ramsin, "where're you from?__________ where're you from?_________" 107.5 at 8:45pm, the only time I will put that station on.
I like to get into my gas guzzlin suv, Cut off a vw or maybe one of them hybrid prius cars while rockin to 94.7 or wiil 95.1 its a northern lake county southern wisc. station. But, I mostly fine satisfaction putting in a CD. Most likly MetallicA!!!

Mike / December 14, 2003 7:22 PM

Well,WBEZ all the way for me along with WNUR. Internet radio-wise,it's Bassdrive,KEXP's audio stream,SomaFM.

And to for Blaine fessing up that he listens to Sir,clearly have no soul or sense of youth..

Light rock..I mean,really.....

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