More great BBC online music shows

Here’s some more of my favourite online radio, following on from my earlier list of great BBC online music shows.

There are several customised online radio stations out there now. These purport to divine your unique taste in music and give you what you really want to hear. Some of these are definitely worthwhile too, but there’s no substitute for a good human selector. These BBC shows have some of the best.

Speaking of the best, I have to mention the name that is missing from my list. John Peel was the best thing on the radio. He played the most eclectic mix of music you could ever hear, and had been doing it since before I was born. He died last year. I always used to think that I’d like to be John Peel when I grow up.

You can listen through your web browser by going to the website for each program. As usual, I have also dug out the RSTP URLs so you can listen conveniently using RealPlayer.

Worldwide with Gilles Peterson

Worldwide website
Worldwide (RealPlayer)

Gilles Peterson seems to be the godfather of global dance sounds. His show is great — mostly laidback grooves with various ethnic stylings. He does have quite an irritating way of talking over the records, but the quality of the music more than makes up for it.

One World

One World website
One World (RealPlayer)

Like Worldwide, One World plays dance music from all over the globe. There’s more variety though — they lean more towards the energetic end of the spectrum, and often showcase a specific artist or label. They also have a segment where they play a selection of new releases.

Jazz on 3

Jazz on 3 website
Jazz on 3 (RealPlayer)

The website says it best:

Jazz on 3 is BBC Radio 3’s contemporary jazz show. Jez Nelson presents the pick of today’s jazz recorded live in concert, talks to the leading players, reviews new CDs, and revisits the tradition through in-depth features.

Jez is an engaging and enthusiastic host, playing a wide range of styles. Essential listening.


Deviation website
Deviation (RealPlayer)

This is the place for broken beats, nu-jazz, angular funk and hip-hop. And the DJ is so cool he doesn’t even need a full surname. Big respect to Benji B, man, laying down the critical beats, upfront vibes and respins.

Freak Zone

Freak Zone website
Freak Zone (RealPlayer)

Stuart says that his show plays “strange and beautiful music”, and who am I to disagree?

I certainly wouldn’t want to pigeonhole the playlist, and really you couldn’t pigeonhole all the songs, at least not into the same pigeonhole; but if you were to try, you would probably attempt to cram them into the pigeonhole marked “left-field pop/psychedelia”. The music mostly comes from the last 40 years, and Stuart has a penchant for playing old avant-garde French pop, which is only to be encouraged. Listen to this show and expect the mildly unexpected.

UK Top 40

UK Top 40 website
UK Top 40 (RealPlayer)

The UK top 40 tends to be more varied and interesting than that of other countries — which isn’t saying much. Still, if you like trashy pop, you’ll find the best here.

Back in the old days when I used to listen to it on an actual radio (i.e. when I lived in the UK), this show used to just play all 40 tracks in sequence. All kinds of music sneak into the lower reaches of the UK top 40, so you’d hear some unexpected juxtapositions. I still treasure the memory of hearing Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy exploding like a bomb in the otherwise tranquil lower reaches of the chart.

These days, the top 40 show has a lot of interviews and other talking features. If you can sit through these, you can still at least hear about half the top 50 songs played in full.

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