NPR member stations are uniquely tapped into local music scenes around the country. DJs share up-and-coming bands with listeners by playing their music on the radio, interviewing them on-air and writing articles and blog posts.
But most of that content rarely travels outside of the station’s city, and a listener in Philadelphia might not know what new music a Chicago-based DJ has just discovered.
The inaugural class included Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon. As the three artists traveled around the country, public radio stations produced videos, conducted interviews and recorded live performances, both on-air and on NPR.org/Slingshot.
In 2018, each music member station selected one Slingshot artist in January and will add more to the list throughout the year. Some, like WebsterX (nominated by Radio Milwaukee) or Haley Heynderickx (nominated by opbmusic), are important players in a station’s local music scene. Others, like Jade Bird (nominated by KXT), are rising stars from abroad.
Keep an eye out for new additions throughout the year on our 2018 page.
Location: New York, NY
RIYL: Wilco, Beck, Arcade Fire, St. Vincent
About: WFUV, New York’s source for music discovery, has been a noncommercial, member-supported public media service of Fordham University for more than 65 years. WFUV has received national recognition for its unique weekday format of adult album alternative music, award-winning local news and sports, and a diverse weekend lineup.
Location: Los Angeles
RIYL: The War On Drugs, Washed Out, Natalia LaFourcade
About: L.A.-based public radio station KCRW is respected worldwide as a music tastemaker. Their signature show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, is a destination for established artists and features up-and-coming artists destined to make an impact. KCRW DJs broadcast every day of the week and all offer diverse and trendsetting programming.
RIYL: Run The Jewels, Jamila Woods, Ric Wilson, Vic Mensa, A Tribe Called Quest
About: Vocalo connects with younger, culturally diverse audiences in Chicago through music discovery and community engagement. We give love to local and independent hip-hop, dance and indie rock. We play over 500 local artists in regular rotation, so when you tune to Vocalo in any given hour you will hear Chicago music. This is what Chicago sounds like.
RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, Wilco, Brandi Carlile, Bruce Springsteen
About: WXPN, the AAA-format, noncommercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania, is based in Philadelphia and serves listeners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. Identified as “influential” by Rolling Stone, WXPN also produces the music program World Cafe, which is distributed to more than 200 radio stations by NPR.
RIYL: Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, The Cure, Alabama Shakes
About: KXT 91.7 is a member-supported, public radio station serving North Texas with an eclectic mix of indie rock, alt-country, alternative, classic rock and world music. The station places a heavy focus on local and new music, as well as deep cuts from legendary artists. KXT launched in 2009 and is operated by North Texas Public Broadcasting.
RIYL: Jason Isbell, Punch Brothers, Claypool Lennon Delirium
About: Front Row Boston is a music performance series featuring exceptional artists across multiple genres from Boston’s best music venues. To capture the most authentic, first-person experience of a live show, Front Row Boston is primarily shot with handheld cameras — no sound stages, no second takes. Front Row Boston is produced by WGBH Music and Crossroads Presents in association with NPR Music.
RIYL: David Bowie, A Tribe Called Quest, Car Seat Headrest, Radiohead
About: KEXP enriches people’s lives by championing music and discovery. KEXP is a nonprofit arts organization serving music lovers and artists through in-person, broadcast, and online programming. KEXP operates one of the most influential listener-supported music radio stations in the world, 90.3 KEXP-FM Seattle, with online and on-air service reaching over 200,000 global listeners each week.
The Colorado Sound
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.
RIYL: Jason Isbell, Wilco, Beck, Lumineers
About: The Colorado Sound is dedicated to music discovery by focusing on emerging artists, national acts and local music. Launched in 2016, The Colorado Sound was voted “Best New Radio Station” in Denver by local readers. Heard in Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder at 105.5 FM, in Steamboat Springs at 88.9 FM and in Summit County at 94.3 FM, The Colorado Sound truly sounds like Colorado.
Location: St. Louis
RIYL: Bob Dylan, James Brown, The New Pornographers, Son Volt
About: KDHX is a full-power, noncommercial, community radio station located in St. Louis. KDHX has been broadcasting at 42,000 watts since October 1987 on 88.1 FM and showcases a variety of music programming. The station’s coverage area is an 80-mile radius around the metro area, which includes a population of 2.4 million. We stream live online, and programming is archived for two weeks at KDHX.org. KDHX also boasts two venues, The Stage at KDHX and The Magnolia Cafe.
Location: Portland, Ore.
RIYL: Angel Olsen, Spoon, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Father John Misty
About: opbmusic from Oregon Public Broadcasting is your front-row ticket to the best new and Northwest music. Listen through our website and mobile apps, attend exclusive live performances in our Portland studios, and watch sessions online and on OPB-TV.
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
RIYL: Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Margo Price, Jason Isbell
About: WMOT, 89.5 FM, Middle Tennessee State University’s flagship public radio station founded in 1969, dedicated itself to the Americana music format in September 2016. Branded as “Roots Radio,” WMOT’s 100,000-watt signal delivers the music most deeply connected to the Music City’s legacy: from classic country music, to blues, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, folk, soul, R&B, and old-school rock and roll.
Location: Kansas City, Mo.
RIYL: J.D. McPherson, Grizzly Bear, Madison Ward & The Mama Bear, Alabama Shakes
About: The Bridge in Kansas City is dedicated to local music, our community and independent voices. We include new, rare and local music in all our playlists, right alongside familiar hits and classics you know and love. The Bridge connects music lovers with music makers through performances and interviews. No other station does what we do. Our city is a true original, and so is The Bridge.
RIYL: Chance The Rapper, Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, Bon Iver
About: 88Nine Radio Milwaukee plays a distinctive blend of rock and hip-hop, and spins at least one track by a Milwaukee artist every hour. Radio Milwaukee seeks to reach a new generation of radio listeners on-air, online and in the community with a unique and adventurous selection of music and short-form storytelling.
Location: Austin, Texas
RIYL: Willie Nelson, Spoon, Alabama Shakes, R.E.M.
About: KUTX 98.9 FM features more local music than any station in Austin, as well as diverse selections from around the globe. The result is programming that reflects Austin’s creative spirit and diverse tastes.
Location: Reno, Nev.
RIYL: Arcade Fire, Cold War Kids, Cage The Elephant, Foster the People, Foo Fighters
About: NV89 is a champion of emerging artists and local musicians who have the talent to be the stars of tomorrow, as well as established artists with a history of creating compelling music. NV89 features NPR’s World Cafe and VuHaus videos to keep our listeners connected with national musical tastemakers.
Location: NPR stations across the country
RIYL: Andrew Bird, Lucius, Tyler Childers, Rhiannon Giddens
About: For three decades, Mountain Stage has been the home of live music on public radio. Produced in West Virginia and distributed by NPR Music, each two-hour episode can be heard weekly on over 200 stations across America. Recorded in front of a live audience, Mountain Stage features performances from seasoned legends and emerging stars ranging from folk, blues, and country; to indie rock, synth pop and beyond.