The Top 12 Radio Stations in L.A. for Music

Can't live without your radio? Fortunately, L.A. still has some good stations to choose from.
Can't live without your radio? Fortunately, L.A. still has some good stations to choose from.

Radio is far from dead, and Los Angeles is still one of the biggest terrestrial radio markets on the planet and No. 2 in America.

While the radio industry was almost ruined because of payola and Clear Channel (both of which still exist, unfortunately — the latter now rebranded as iHeartMedia), Los Angeles still boasts many good and several indispensable stations where you can get your music fix for free. The radio industry might not be around forever, but in some ways it’s more stable than the chaotic world of online subscription streaming. And at least when you’re listening to the radio, you don’t have to worry about some Silicon Valley libertarian billionaire scraping all your personal data to sell to marketeers or the NSA or whoever they sell that shit to, right? So yeah, old-school AM/FM radio still has its merits. 

Here are the best radio stations based on a purely subjective and qualitative analysis (and roughly a decade of driving around L.A. with radio as this scribe’s only soundtrack). So while you sit in some of the world’s worst traffic, turn on and tune in to the finest L.A. radio has to offer.

12. KROQ - 106.7 FM
While many listeners inevitably grow out of the shenanigans and music popularized by the SoCal rock/pop-punk/emo/alt-rock station, KROQ is still going strong and is the aural equivalent of Jackass. One can imagine thousands of dads from here to San Diego who can now share this station with their kids and bond over Blink-182, “Detachable Penis,” “Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot,” Butthole Surfers and other parts of the SoCal canon. And they still host that Weenie Roast, too.

Steve Jones, host of Jonesy's Jukebox
Steve Jones, host of Jonesy's Jukebox
Courtesy KLOS

11. KLOS - 95.5 FM
KLOS has been serving rock & roll of the AOR persuasion since 1969. While the station typically is known for spinning pretty recognizable classic-rock standards, every once in a while you’ll hear it digging into the vaults for some deeper cuts. The station now hosts Jonesy (and his jukebox, after he left KROQ and Indie 103.1), drive-time vets Heidi and Frank, and "Breakfast With the Beatles."

10. KCRW - 89.9 FM
An NPR member station broadcasting from Santa Monica Community College, KCRW suffers from never living up to its own hype. At the end of the day, it’s not actually very "eclectic," though it has a faithful following and is perhaps best known for pushing beige singer-songwriters and indie rock–adjacent artists. It makes this list because its late-night and weekend DJs do sometimes play compelling sets, but its flagship Morning Becomes Eclectic program, under Jason Bentley's direction, is pretty generic.

9. KPWR - Power 106 - 105.9 fm
Power is the best place in L.A. for contemporary hip-hop and R&B ... and, in recent years, some pop and EDM, too. The station “Where Hip-Hop Lives” offers a solid stable of veteran DJs and personalities like Felli Fel, and it regularly features some top-shelf live mixing and scratching.

The Top 12 Radio Stations in L.A. for Music
Courtesy Jose FM

8. KDLD - José - 103.1 FM
The 103.1 frequency in the past has been home to other historical L.A. stations that are now unfortunately resting in peace, such as pirate ravers MARS-FM and Indie 103. But José is now the spot if you’re seeking quality Spanish-language adult hits.

7. KFWB - Desi 980 AM
Desi is the only station here on the AM side of the dial, and it only flipped into this current iteration early in 2016 (pour one out for "The Beast" sports radio). But its tag of “Hollywood’s Bollywood Station” is certainly on point, as it features all manner of Indian Bollywood and pop music (Indi-pop) mixed with comedy/topical programs like “The Brown Guys.” While the signal is pretty weak and lacks some low end, Desi is a refreshing break from the more played-out catalogs of many other stations.

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