The station (freeform legends since the 1960′s) is a model of how to adapt and thrive in the web era. Every show is archived, and the site has search features that allow you to find shows that have played any of the station’s very eclectic range of artists and bands. They do podcasts too. The cumulative amount of great music and talk on this site is astonishing, and the station’s live feed and archives probably make up half of my listening fodder.
100% free of advertising or underwriting. Its sole means of support is a two-week listener marathon, nearing completion (and nearing its goal). This is as unlike the spirit of the traditional fundraiser as you can imagine — check out this video clip (.avi 12 MB) to get a flavour.
The toughest part for me is deciding which show should get my donation (there is an element of internal competition). This year I decided to throw my money down with Kenny G (pictured above in orange wig) — because his show is so audacious it borders on unlistenable, because he is the driving force behind the awe-inspiring UbuWeb, because I have appropriated his image in the past, and because his premium (singing the hits of theory: Wittgenstein, Adorno, Deleuze, Derrida, etc., all ramped up to a rocking beat) sounds like it could be useful for clearing the house of unwanted guests.
Only two more days of the marathon remain — the finale is the Hoof and Mouth Sinfonia, a five-hour plus jam in which WFMU’s DJ’s sing their favorite tracks backed by a rotating band of other DJs (led by Scott Williams (show, photo), who may well be the coolest man alive). Webcast via a shaky Windows Media stream, the Sinfonia finale is great fun and a huge event at our house — kind of like Super Bowl Sunday for indie radio geeks.
If you want to strike a blow against bland corporate media, you could do worse than chip in a few bucks. If you want to support brilliant, untamed and idiosyncratic radio, you couldn’t do better.