An Ear to the Unknown

I distinctly remember a time in high school, one weekend night just at home hanging out in my room. I had on the great Cleveland-area college radio station WRUW, operating out of Case Western Reserve University, and they were playing indie music, a genre I had never heard of at the time. In that hour a whole new world opened up to me, and without too much exaggeration I would say it changed my life.

Over the years I’ve collected music in almost every way possible. While still in high school I would buy CDs, but more often check them out of the library to rip onto my computer. I used early file sharing software such as Limewire, Kazaa, and Soulseek. In college I would download albums directly from independent music blogs. Now, almost anything can be streamed directly from Spotify or Youtube, or downloaded from Bandcamp.

At a time when new music is served up via algorithmic playlists on Spotify or Youtube, it’s an exciting feeling to be in the hands of a human with a unique point of view. Over the last year or so I have made my primary source of new music for just that reason.

When you come to the site and press play on one of the two continuous live streams broadcasting from studios all around the world, you are trusting the DJ to bring you not only something new, but something you probably never would have thought to seek out for yourself at all. Artists and even entire genres of music are ripe for discovery if you place your trust in someone else to pick them out for you.

One thing that internet radio offers which is genuinely hard to find these days is mystery. Hearing something that can’t immediately be identified, and which you may potentially never hear again, is an experience that is getting more rare as the internet attempts to make every piece of information available as frictionlessly as possible. Maybe not everything should be readily available in seconds. Maybe having to wait, or having to tune in at just the right time, makes what you end up finding that much more special.

Here are some of my favorite episodes:

Miniature: Bruits de la Passion’s Miniature live in the studio, playing oddball house & indie rock from Pylon, Weyes Blood & more.

ONY: A moody mix of soundtrack, ambient, chopped n’ screwed, and trap.

Getting Warmer: Jen Monroe compiles a cozy mix of shoegaze, folk, and pop.

Immediate Hits: Dan Russell from Manchester’s very own trash-punks The Hipshakes steps into the NTS studio once a month for an hour long barrage of punk, DIY, garage and more.