My Top Five and Over All Top 40 WBER Picks


90.5 FM WBER (The only station that matters) broadcasts out of the Rochester, NY area with a very indie format, solely operating through listener support. Over the last month or so, they opened up a huge voter poll, asking listeners to pick their top five artists that were played on the station that have impacted the lives of the listeners in any way, shape or form.  The results would be tallied and the top 90 ½ (coz it’s 90.5 FM…get it?) and on Friday, April 29th, the results were broadcast as part of the annual station fundraiser.  I voted for my top five a few days prior and was happy to see that each artist/band made it somewhere on the countdown and that I wasn’t alone in having these bands mean something.

So, as many of the DJs and listeners had done on their respective FB pages, I will post the top five I voted for and tie that in with the top 40 artists that I either discovered through the station, or had grown a deeper appreciation for thanks to a wider variety of songs aired.

  1. Sisters of Mercy
    1. Prior to hearing some of their tracks on WBER, I had only a vague sense of who they were. I got a nice taste of their sound through songs like “This Corrosion,” “More,” and on one occasion, their cover of “Give Me Shelter.”
  2. The Smiths
    1. Believe it or not, no station I had listen to prior had EVER played them. I can’t say enough about their unique writing.
  3. REM
    1. Yes, who hasn’t heard of them? Most other stations play through a set of five of their songs whereas I think I’ve heard at least 25 more through WBER spanning their entire career.
  4. Nirvana
    1. I owned nearly their entire discography prior to finding WBER but again, it comes down to variety of songs played. I’ve heard more b-sides, deeper cuts and demos on this station than anywhere else.
  5. Kraftwerk
    1. This is the only station that has played “Autobahn” in its entirety on a regular basis. Plus, jamming out to “Pocket Calculator” and tracks off of The Mix and Computer World helped.

And now for the  remaining top 35 picks:

  1. Joy Division
    1. Shocking yet again that this was the first place I heard them. Where have I been?
  2. Portishead
    1. Knew of them vaguely but got into them with the wide array of tracks played here.
  3. Duran Duran
    1. Obviously unavoidable elsewhere but Jenifer V gave me a new appreciation for them on her WBER show, New Wave Wednesday
    1. I only heard a track here and there prior to WBER. Now they’re helping me find my mind…… where is my mind?
  5. MC Lars
    1. The first track I heard from this guy was “Space Game” and my inner geek exploded. Thank you!
  6. King Missle
    1. “Sensitive Artist” makes me laugh the hardest
  7. Laurie Anderson
    1. WBER played “O Superman” one day and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Been a fan ever since.
  8. Thomas Dolby
    1. Again who hasn’t heard of this guy? But “One of Our Submarines” was awesome.
  9. Tears for Fears
    1. Again, thanks to Jenifer V for playing a wider range of their music than just what the other stations played.
  10. Underworld
    1. I’m still on the fence on which labum of their’s I should by so I’ve stuck to singles that I’ve heard only on this station
  11. Blue Clocks Green
    1. The first tongue in cheek songs I’ve heard about Hemmingway. Well, really the first song period.
  12. TV on the Radio
    1. “Wolf Like Me” was my first introduction and I’ve been hooked since.
  13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    1. Talk about a wide range of sound from this band. Thanks for introducing them to me.
  14. Dirty Little Rabbits
    1. Yeah, so what if I only know one song? I love “Hello” and will scream along with it every time I hear it.
  15. Snake River Conspiracy
    1. “Vulcan” was freakin awesome.
  16. Justice
    1. “Waters of Nazareth” and everything since.
  17. KMFDM
    1. Knew a bit about the band (and its ever changing lineup) but heard the most of their discography through WBER.
  18. Iron and Wine
    1. Again, no other station really played all that much of them in my area.
  19. Fleet Foxes
    1. I bought the album on a whim and not long after, I was hearing quite a few tracks getting air play.
  20. Ministry
    1. Outside of a specialty show that used to play out in St. Paul, WBER was the only place I could get my fix.
  21. Poe
    1. Right? Discovered her through WBER
  22. Splashdown
    1. “Iron Spy”
  23. Wolfmother
    1. “Woman” was the first single I heard and I’ve been quietly following afterward.
  24. The Heavy
    1. “Big Bad Wolf” with its mix of electronic mayhem, wild vocals and funk is now a standard for me.
  25. 1000 Homo DJs
    1. A DJ spun “Supernaut” late at night while I was coming home from work but wouldn’t give out the name of the artist over the airwaves. A quick google search gave me the answer. I had been curious about this Ministry side project for a while and shortly after hearing this, I bought their only EP.
  26. Panda Bear
    1. “Come to Your Senses” is indescribable.
  27. Wall of Voodoo / Stan Ridgway
    1. Discovered both the band and the frontman’s solo stuff at exactly the same time. JUST DRIVE!
  28. The Orb
    1. I had a few of their albums previously but WBER played some cuts from their debut, their live album and hearing those always makes me happy.
  29. Orbital
    1. Almost a tie with Orb for the same reasons. “Halcyon” is just great.
  30. Junip / Jose Gonzalez
    1. Again, kind of found both the band and its frontman at the same time. His cover of “Tear Drop” is stunning and Junip’s songs are amazing.
  31. Soul Coughing
    1. “Busting up a Starbucks” clued me into to their style. Hooked ever since
  32. Chemical Brothers
    1. I owned I think 15 releases from this band before I found that WBER was spinning them regularly and would always showcase their newest material.
  33. Aphex Twin
    1. I had a few EPs and LPs before but first hearing “Windowlicker” in roation was incredible to me. I mean, APHEX TWIN IS ON THE RADIO!
  34. Propeller heads
    1. I knew of this band for a long time and friends owned the LP but I didn’t pay much attention until it got some play on WBEr and was used as intro music for a certain DJ.
  35. RJD2
    1. Actually, for the same reasons at the aforementioned band!

I really could go farther, maybe moving into a top 100 list. It’s amazing how just one radio station can be life changing, musically speaking, and shape my likes, dislikes and even shape the way my own music sounds.

If you decide to t une in or drop by their live stream, check out a few of thei specialty shows:

New wave Wednesday – Wednesday mornings from 6 to 9

Elektrobank on Saturday evenings, usually starting at 9 – very cutting edge!

First Impressions, which showcases the newest music of literally every genre.

And of course, scope out ANY of the DJs on air at any point of the day.

About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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