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The Archive


As new media gurus will line up to tell you, there’s a sea change going on and some industries will weather it better than others. The big surprise: public radio’s actually looking pretty good.

Jersey City’s WFMU—known to some as Yo La Tengo’s favorite radio stationjust launched a project called the Free Music Archive, imagined as a curated source for the best free music on the internet. Of course, anyone with a server and a few industry connections can start stockpiling files, but when it’s a station that’s spent the past 50 years digging up some of the most interesting obscuro cuts on record, they have a lot more going for them than just technology.

The result is a pretty good model for the next 20 years of radio. There’s a steady stream of new interesting music streamed on the site, available for download, or delivered through an RSS feed or two. You can listen to the “interesting” feed if you’re after radio-style selections, or keep up with tracks as they’re added through the “recent” feed. And unlike their ClearChannel brethren, WFMU is drawing from a broad enough pool of music to keep a steady stream of tracks moving through the site.

Our only complaint is that the site’s mostly current, ruling out the historical gems that make the station such a mainstay for New Yorkers, but we’re guessing the rights are too complicated for those tracks to make it onto the web any time soon. Still, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Just don’t expect to find any Metallica.