Although it isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be back in the day, there’s something special about jazz music that makes it stand the test of time.
Jazz is also claimed to help with stress relief, lowering blood pressure, and even boosting immunity, according to a report by John Hopkins Medicine.
Finding a good jazz radio station can be difficult with all the options available, which is why we wrote this guide.
In this article, we’ll showcase America’s best 11 jazz radio stations where you can enjoy some of the finest melodies from across the United States all day.
1. WBGO – Jazz 88
Available: Online or 88.3 MHz (Newark, New Jersey)
Let’s kick off the list with one of the most highly recommended radio stations for jazz music.
WBGO, also known as Jazz 88, is in downtown Newark, New Jersey. The station also has various transmitters that serve New York and is deeply affiliated with The Empire State.
WBGO is currently owned by Newark Radio, so it’s a public radio station. However, the station was initially owned by Newark’s Board of Education when it was established in January 1947.
Today, WBGO is the only station serving the New York metropolitan area that plays jazz only since its only competitor WQCD switched formats in 2008.
However, it’s also known for broadcasting some programs during morning and afternoon drives, including local and NPR-produced newscasts, traffic reports, public affairs programs, etc.
2. KUVO – The Drop
Available: Online through the website and its own mobile app or 89.3 MHz (Denver, Colorado)
If you want to listen to authentic jazz music while discovering hidden gems, non-commercial radio stations are definitely the way to go!
KUVO, or The Drop, is a nonprofit radio station specializing in jazz music in public radio format.
The radio station is owned by Rocky Mountain Public Media Inc and serves Denver and Boulder’s metropolitan areas.
However, the radio channel has a worldwide reach now, thanks to its mobile app.
According to the radio’s website, KUVO’s mission is to broadcast distinct music and unique programming that reflects the listeners’ community and culture.
The station relies mainly on donations, and the broadcast is ad-free!
The radio station has been around since August 1985, when it was owned by Denver Educational Broadcasting.
One thing that makes KUVO unique is that it plays a wide range of jazz and blues subgenres, including classic jazz, Latin jazz, acid jazz, gospel, funk, rhythm, and more. The listening experience is always special.
Additionally, the station has its own performance studio, which allows it to host live performances and concerts by local artists and bands.
Besides jazz music, the station also broadcasts jazz-related syndicated programs, such as Jazz Night In America.
3. KCCK FM
Available: Online or 88.3 MHz (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
KCCK FM is another highly recommended and underrated radio station specializing in the jazz format.
The station is the state’s only jazz radio station and is run and licensed by Kirkwood Community College.
KCCK FM was established in September 1972 as a project by the electronics class in the community college.
The unique status of the radio station encouraged many jazz lovers in the state to donate funds and equipment to keep the station going.
The station broadcasts 24/7, with jazz and blues music making up around half the broadcasting time.
The radio station also broadcasts other programming and music genres, including local news and informational content, along with weekly segments of new-age, Celtic, and Native American music.
Available: Online or 89.1 MHz (Ypsilanti, Michigan)
WEMU is a public radio station located in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The station is owned by Eastern Michigan University. It’s considered one of the longest-standing jazz stations owned by a university.
In fact, the radio station is still broadcasting from King Hall on the university campus to this day.
Not only that but according to some reports, WEMU has one of the largest jazz broadcast libraries in the United States, playing over 100,000 records and tracks throughout the years.
While jazz music takes up most of the weekly broadcasts, the station also airs NPR news and a few shows during the morning and afternoon drives.
Besides jazz, you can also listen to some NPR talk shows along with some carefully selected blues and alternative music tracks on weekends
5. WICR – The Diamond
Available: Online or 88.7 MHz (Indianapolis, Indiana)
WICR, also known as The Diamond, is another great choice to enjoy high-quality jazz music without being interrupted by ads.
The University of Indianapolis Board of Trustees established the radio station in 1962. The station’s studio and offices are still broadcasted from Esch Hall.
The non-commercial station specializes in jazz music and has a classical music radio format.
A typical weekday of the radio station includes both genres, where classical music is played from midnight to noon, and jazz is played throughout the rest of the day.
On weekends, however, the radio station focuses more on jazz music. Still, it also introduces other musical genres, such as blues, Latin jazz, rock, etc.
The radio station mainly serves the Indianapolis metropolitan area. However, the broadcast is also streamed online in HD, allowing listeners worldwide to enjoy the unique selection of music the station plays.
6. KCSM – Jazz 91
Available: Online or 91.1 MHz (San Mateo, California)
KCSM, also known as Jazz 91, is a 24/7 jazz music radio station licensed to San Mateo, California, but has transmitters in various nearby cities in California, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.
The radio station was established in 1964 but adopted its current jazz format after several years.
KCSM is primarily funded by donations and support from the listener’s community and broadcasted from the College of San Mateo campus.
You can also enjoy the station’s music online through the radio’s website.
Since the radio station was originally a training facility for radio presenters in the college, many popular radio figures worked in Jazz 91 at some point, such as the San Francisco Giants announcer Jon Miller.
7. KKJZ – K Jazz 88.1
Available: Online or 88.1 MHz (Long Beach, California)
Another major radio station from California specializing in the jazz radio format is KKJZ, which also goes by the brand name K Jazz 88.1.
Like KKSM, this is a non-commercial radio station owned by California State University and the Long Beach Foundation.
The radio station is also mainly funded by donations and contributions from the listener’s community.
However, unlike Jazz 91, this station broadcasts jazz and blues music, making it a better choice for those with a broader taste in music, especially if you’re open to hearing something new.
According to ratings and numbers, KKJZ is one of the most famous jazz radio stations, and it was ranked the most listened-to jazz station across the United States in 2008.
Available: Online only (Seattle, Washington)
The modern age of internet streaming makes it much easier for music lovers to connect and share their love for specific genres without needing special transmitters, providing us with some incredible radio stations, such as Jazz24.
As the name suggests, this online radio is dedicated almost entirely to jazz music, playing everything from all-time classics to recent productions.
In addition to jazz, the free radio station dabbles in other related musical genres, such as blues, folk, and Latin jazz, to provide variety to the listeners.
Available: Online or 90.7 MHz (New Orleans, Louisiana)
WWOZ is a community-funded radio station from New Orleans, Louisiana, the birthplace of jazz music!
Since the radio is owned by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the station gets its hand on some of the rarest finds and hidden gems that you can (or can’t) think of!
Unlike other stations on the list that play a variety of jazz music, this station specializes in retaining the musical heritage of Louisiana.
However, as a major supporter of New Orleans music, you’ll often enjoy some local artists along with live performances broadcasted from the station’s studio.
Available: Online or 91.7 MHz (San Antonio, Texas)
KRTU is a radio station licensed to San Antonio, Texas, and owned by the Department of Communication at Trinity University.
The station was founded in 1976 and runs on community support and donations.
Ideally, KRTU plays jazz music almost all day, apart from a few hours around midnight when the station occasionally broadcasts some indie and alternative rock music instead.
Besides jazz records and CDs, the station often supports local jazz artists by allowing them to give live performances on the station as a public service.
Available: Online or 88.1 MHz (North Newton, Kansas)
Last but not least, we have KBCU, a nonprofit radio station that mainly broadcasts jazz music.
The station was established in 1987 by Bethel College and has maintained its format ever since.
Besides jazz, the station also broadcasts shows and musical genres, such as news, sports, indie/rock music, and more!
Choosing the Best Jazz Radio Stations in the USA
This wraps it up for today’s guide through some of America’s best jazz radio stations from coast to coast.
Luckily, we’re rarely limited by geographic boundaries when it comes to radio stations nowadays, as you can enjoy almost all of them online with high quality.