The Best of NJ: WPRB 103.3 FM
A few years ago, I got a job in Princeton, NJ and spent about two and a half years working there. One of the highlights of that job was my hour-long commute. For reals. You see, though I was by myself in the car, I wasn’t alone. I had the radio to keep me company. And I kept that radio tuned to WPRB 103.3 FM – the radio station of Princeton University.
Though I would originally listen to Q104.3, the classic rock station based in New York, it would often break up as I traveled west towards Princeton. Each day, I would do my usual search for a new station; every time the seek button brought me to a new one, I would either hear a commercial or static. One day, though, I landed at 103.3. I heard this really weird song that sounded like it was being sung by Lisa Simpson, and I was hooked. (I would later find out that the song was Only Skin by Joanna Newsom.)
I kept the radio on 103.3 for the rest of my commute, and I kept hearing all these unusual songs. They were like nothing I had ever heard. Upon getting home, I looked up 103.3 to find out what it was all about. I learned that it is the student-run radio station of Princeton University, known as WPRB. As I had been so accustomed to conventional radio, where I would often hear the same songs over and over, this new (to me) station was a real awakening.
For the remainder of my time working in Princeton, I would listen to WPRB whenever possible. I was exposed to all different kinds of music, as delivered by the station’s many different deejays. You see, they have a different set of deejays and different programming each day. On top of that, every deejay is only on for like two hours. Although I was only able to listen to the station from 8 AM to 9 AM and from 5 PM to 6 PM (meaning I would hear the same shows each week), I still got a good sampling of music I had never heard before.
I heard songs by MGMT and Vampire Weekend before those bands were popular. I also heard a bunch of lesser-known songs by well established musicians that aren’t in the usual rotation on other stations. Aside from this indie and rare music, I would hear plenty of classical and international music. I think I was exposed to every type of music imaginable.
What makes the experience of listening to WPRB even better is that you rarely hear commercials. When there is a break in the music, it’s usually just so the deejay can announce what you’ve just heard or to read off a list of upcoming concerts nearby. This is a much better option than waiting out ten minutes of obnoxious commercials or trying to find another station (although, that’s how I stumbled upon WPRB in the first place!).
Though it’s been well over a year since I worked in Princeton, I still listen to WPRB whenever I’m in a car and in the station’s range. What other radio station in the Armpit of America lets you hear some up-and-coming indie band, Senegalese rap music, something by Beethoven, and even a well-known song that’s been completely distorted until it sounds like something you’ve never heard before, all in the same day? Certainly not from one of New York’s or Philadelphia’s stations. Instead, rely on Princeton University’s own station – WPRB 103.3 FM, the best radio station in New Jersey.