Sunday Morning Radio: Radio Paradise, Paradise, CA

Radio Paradise has long been a go-to station around here. It was one of the first stations we found when we got our Squeezebox and went looking for internet stations, and it stands apart from most other stations in a couple of respects. First off, they’re completely listener-supported, so you’ll never hear a commercial. And second, their playlist is diverse, thematically solid and quite often surprising. While you’ll frequently hear mainstream artists like Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty and Stevie Ray Vaughan, they’re served up alongside more esoteric and lesser-heard artists like Thievery Corporation, Calexico and London Grammar (playlist here). Radio Paradise is not a Rock station per se, but make no mistake – the station rocks.

Radio Paradise has been on the air for nearly 15 years, and was started by Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith from their home in Paradise, California. Bill is a long-time radio vet, working at West Coast stations such as KPIG/KFAT and pioneering both formatting and delivery. Bill established the first full-time streaming setup at KPIG way back in 1995, so it’s safe to say he knows the ins and outs of webcasting like few others.

That knowledge is on full display on the station’s web site. It’s extremely user-friendly, packed with features and the visual equivalent of the music they play – not ostentatious but rock-solid in its delivery. In nearly five years of listening on and off, I’ve never seen their stream down once – a problem that often befalls much larger stations on the regular.

As for the playlist – here’s the sample hour for an early Sunday afternoon.

The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tightrope
Shook Twins – Awhile
Choir Of Young Believers – Sedated
Peter Gabriel – Growing Up
Sixteen Horsepower – Hutterite Mile
Eivør – Rain
Thievery Corporation – Liberation Front
Calexico – Guero Canelo
Joan Osborne – St. Teresa
Cowboy Junkies – Hard To Explain
The Shins – No Way Down
Rosanne Cash – Modern Blue
Chris Smither – I Am The Ride
José González – Killing For Love
John Hiatt – Lift Up Every Stone
Cream – White Room

That’s just an incredibly diverse hour, with absolutely minimal interruptions. The Goldsmiths know that their audience is not here for ‘personality-driven radio’ (which definitely has its place, but that place is not this station), they want music. And Radio Paradise delivers a music format that is a throwback to the earliest days of free-form FM radio, when a playlist consisted of more than 40 songs and the music was allowed to take its own direction, relying only on the songs before and after it for context.

The result is a station that covers an enormous amount of stylistic ground, where nothing seems out of place and the programming becomes larger than limiting terms like ‘format.’ At Radio Paradise, the program in total becomes greater than the style of any individual song. It’s all music after all, and that’s the guiding principle that makes this station such a pleasure to listen to. Very highly recommended.

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