The (remaining) throwback stations
For now, fans of '80s and '90s hip-hop will have to settle for WRNB, otherwise known as Old School 100.3. When it comes to rap, this station will sometimes go for a handful of safe bets (think Run-D.M.C. or Naughty By Nature as opposed to, say, Wu-Tang or Snoop). But don’t banish it from your presets just yet. Where WRNB really excels is in its repertoire of classic soul, funk, and R&B hits, from The Isley Brothers to TLC and everything in between. It also has a pair of engaging, locally famous hosts: Tom Joyner, who leads a riotous ensemble in the morning, and Philly’s own Lady B, one of the earliest female MCs in hip-hop, who fields caller questions and complaints with casual panache. In a city known for its distinct brand of soul music, a radio station like this one is essential.
Every radio market has a bevy of classic rock stations, each one nearly indistinguishable from the next. You’ll hear a rotation of maybe 200 songs, all dating to somewhere between 1964 and Guns N’ Roses, with the occasional Nirvana or early-period Green Day romp thrown in for good measure. If you’re a classic rock aficionado, however, you can pick up on the subtle differences between markets. Here in Philly, we have it pretty good with 102.9 WMGK. The station goes light on faux-deep cuts like The Doors, and while we’ve had to sit through “Free Bird” and a few endless Van Halen solos, we’re just as often treated to more singable selections from The Cars, Cheap Trick, and Thin Lizzy. WMGK has an ’80s bent, too, which makes it synthier and poppier than other classic rock stations. We’ll take it over the stations playing Led Zeppelin every other song.