These days we can access most of our favourite stations online – with some even being exclusively available on the web.
There are many benefits to this. For example, listening to the radio online can offer better sound quality than traditional broadcasting. It can also be more convenient because you can access it from any device with an internet connection. Plus, because you aren’t restricted by the geographical range of radio waves, you can listen to stations from all over the world.
With that said, we’ve pulled together some of the best radio stations available online in the UK, to give you some ideas and inspiration for what to listen to.
1. Boom Radio
First launched in February of last year, Boom Radio is a digital station created and hosted by baby boomers, for baby boomers.
This one-of-a-kind channel came to life because founders Phil Riley and David Lloyd felt strongly that the radio industry wasn’t catering as well as it could to those born between 1946 and 1964. Boom Radio aims to bring people over 60 the tracks of their younger years all day, every day.
If you’d like to listen to legends of the airwaves like David Hamilton serving up music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, then you can find Boom Radio on DAB or online.
And for those of you more inclined to the sounds of the 50s and other easy-listening tunes, check out Boom’s sister station, Boom Light.
To find out more, why not take a look at our interview with co-founder Phil Riley?
2. Planet Rock
If you can’t get enough of the head-banging classic rock tracks of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, then Planet Rock may be the station for you.
First launched in 1999, this digital-only station has been serving up all the best from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath for over 20 years.
Though it’s not all screeching guitar solos and power ballads – there’s also a good mix of softer rock (as I’m writing this, ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ by Neil Young is swinging over the airwaves) and more modern tunes from bands like Nickelback and Muse.
One show to watch out for on Planet Rock is Nights with Alice Cooper, where the legend presents some of his favourite songs, and shares insider stories from his esteemed career.
If you like call-in and talk shows that deal with hot-button topics, then the odds are you’ve already listened to LBC.
LBC was the UK’s first licensed commercial radio station and although it was originally exclusively broadcasted to London, for the last decade or so it’s been made available to the whole of the UK thanks to digital radio.
Each week, millions of people tune in to listen to hosts like Andrew Marr and Labour MP David Lammy speak to prominent figures and to the public about whatever’s making headlines that week, with its primary focus centring around big political issues; from immigration and elections to climate change and human rights.
4. Worldwide FM
In recent times, particularly in response to political movements like the Black Lives Matter protests, media industries like film, television, and literature have started giving platforms to marginalised voices and sharing a more diverse range of perspectives.
Although, some people, like award-winning presenter Kaylee Golding, have criticised the radio industry for trailing behind in this respect.
But one station that’s committed to diverse programming is Worldwide FM. This digital radio station employs a range of DJs from all over the world, and broadcasts its shows from places like London and New York, as well as Seoul, Johannesburg, Istanbul, and many more!
Worldwide FM is committed to sharing progressive values and giving overlooked, minority artists and hosts a platform.
5. Smooth Radio
If you’d like something soft to soothe you after a long day, then why not check out Smooth Radio, which plays all kinds of relaxing music from the last five decades?
From silky smooth jazz to soft rock classics, there’s always something calm and groovy playing on here. At the time of writing, Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ is currently gracing the airwaves, and we think this perfectly encapsulates Smooth Radio’s vibe.
For something that’s even more laidback, why not check out its sister show, Smooth Chill?
6. Jazz FM
Jazz, it’s like Marmite, liquorice, or Ricky Gervais: you either love it or you hate it. But if you’re firmly in the love camp, then you might want to listen to a radio station completely dedicated to the genre.
Jazz FM has been bringing UK listeners soulful songs for the better part of three decades. With their slogan ‘Listen in Colour’, this digital-only station promises an eclectic selection of jazz, blues, and soul music.
So whether you’re into the contemporary sounds of artists like Nora Jones and Gregory Porter, or you want to hear from the all-time greats like Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington, you’re sure to find something here that you like.
7. BBC Radio 4
While many radio stations are dedicated to music, there are, of course, others like BBC Radio 4 that focus on speech.
There are a wide variety of different programmes on Radio 4. As well as high-quality journalism and topical debates, you’ll find enlightening discussions with experts from a variety of fields; readings of novels, short stories, and poetry; quizzes where you can test your trivia skills; and compelling made-for-radio dramas and comedies.
Two of the most popular shows on BBC Radio 4 are Desert Island Discs and the long-running soap The Archers.
8. Classic FM
Looking for music with an intellectual edge, why not check out Classic FM?
This high-minded station brings you all the best arrangements from all the greatest composers – from Mozart and Beethoven to Schubert and Chopin.
Although, it isn’t just symphonies from wig-wearing intellectuals that died hundreds of years ago. In fact, Classic FM plays soul-stirring compositions from the modern era too, as well as film (and even video game) scores.
If you don’t know when to tune in, why not check out comedian, actor, and Pointless host Alexander Armstrong’s slots? Armstrong’s shows run from 9am-12pm on weekdays and on Saturdays between 1 and 4pm.
9. Absolute Radio 60s, 70s, or 80s
Sometimes we tune into radio stations because we’re not sure what kind of music we want to listen to. So, letting a clued-up disc jockey take you on an eclectic journey through genres and decades on a station like BBC Radio 2 can be a great way to discover music.
Although, other times, we might know exactly what kind of music we want to hear. And it’s at times like this that focused stations like Absolute Radio 60s (and its sister stations Absolute 70s and Absolute 80s) come in handy.
So whether you’re in the mood for the psychedelic sounds of the 60s or the synth-pop style made famous in the 80s, you can tune in and find something to hit the spot.
If you’re a keen sports fan, then there’s probably no better radio station for you than talkSPORT. It’s the only UK-based sports radio station that broadcasts 24/7 – bringing you discussions, phone-in shows, and even live commentaries of anything from mixed martial arts and boxing to football and rugby.
Popular shows include talkSPORT Breakfast – hosted by the likes of Laura Woods and Alan Brazil – and the Hawksbee & Jacobs show.
While I’m writing articles for Rest Less or even doing some chores around the house, one of my favourite things to listen to is a good film soundtrack.
There are many reasons for this. For one, I’ve found listening to music without lyrics really helps me concentrate, and scientific studies agree! But most of all, I find music from films particularly dramatic and provoking – as they’re all composed specifically to tell a story.
However, if you want to lose yourself in some awe-inspiring cinematic sounds, it can often be tricky to find great soundtracks, especially once you’re done listening to the all-time greats like John Williams and Hans Zimmer – and this is where Cinemix comes in.
Cinemix is a free online radio station that exclusively plays film soundtracks. Not only will you hear loads of tracks from your favourite flicks, but you’ll also be treated to movie music from all over the world! Who knows, it may even give you some ideas for films to add to your watch list.
12. BBC Radio 2
Even if you aren’t an avid radio listener, you’ve probably tuned in to BBC Radio 2 at one point or another – but no list of the best radio stations in the UK would be complete without it!
Since it was launched in 1967 as the sister station of BBC Radio 1, it’s become the UK’s most popular radio station, amassing around 14 million listeners every week. Not only does it serve up a wide range of music – classical, country, folk, jazz, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and mainstream pop, just to name a few – but it also features a selection of talk shows, documentaries, and comedy shows.
Popular slots include The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show; Ken Bruce’s morning slot where hopeful music fans call in to test their knowledge in the ‘Popmaster’ segment; and Jeremy Vine’s call-in show.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our list of some of the best radio stations that you can find online. Remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other great stations out there, both online and on traditional broadcasting.
For more media and entertainment content, check out the art and culture section of our website, where you’ll find plenty of inspiration for different films and TV shows to watch. And if you’re on the hunt for book suggestions, head on over to our literature section.
Do you listen to the radio online? If so, what’s your favourite station? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.