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Whole Wheat Radio is an internet radio station based in a log cabin in Talkeetna, Alaska that plays bluegrass, folk, and other musical styles, generally acoustic. It is Wiki-based, which means that registered users can create and edit pages as well as request songs, chat, etc. If you know the lyrics to a recorded song, for example, you can add them to that song’s page. You can also rate the songs that are being played, and you can see the 25 songs that were just played as well as the songs that are coming up.

A Listener map shows all of the people listening currently around the world, and you can add your photo and a message to your dot on the map, which are shown at random as the map moves and profiles the listeners.

The music requested by W.W.R. listeners can at times be irritatingly “mellow”, but it’s a great way to hear regional, acoustic musicians and bluegrass bands from all over the country that you would never get a chance to hear otherwise. This is NOT a Top 40 of Anything station. In fact, anything that smells of being a “hit” probably won’t get played, but that’s not a bad thing. Links to CD Baby and MySpace allow you to find out more about bands or musicians you hear on the station.

Bluegrass bands can send their CDs to Whole Wheat Radio and get on their New Additions list. Some listener will usually request a couple of your songs just to find out what your band sounds like, or you can request your own songs to get them heard on the station. Songs that get 4 or 5 stars from listeners have a good chance of being played over and over again on the station. Songs that stink fade into oblivion. It’s a very fair system. If your song gets a higher rating than a so-so Seldom Scene song (hypothetically speaking, of course, as I’m a big S.S. fan), your song is going to get more airplay. Name recognition and reputation always help, but most W.W.R. listeners are focused on the song, not the performer.

The station also hosts house concerts by touring musicians, which are broadcast both live and recorded for play later. House concert performers generally do very well financially, and they get to stay overnight in a cabin on the property, as well as being fed.

It can take awhile to figure out how to do things on the W.W.R. pages, but persistence pays off. I couldn’t request any songs for weeks because my confirmation code kept getting sent to my e-mail’s Junk Mail box, but once I figured that out I was off and running. BEWARE: Whole Wheat Radio can be addictive! I’ve spent way too many evenings listening to great music and editing pages when I should have been doing something more productive (but less fun).

Unlike most internet radio stations, the interactive nature of creates a real sense of community among listeners spread out around the world. Regular listeners and contributors often visit other listeners that they have met via Whole Wheat Radio when they travel to different parts of the country or the world.

This is NOT your father’s radio station, unless your father was a tie-dyed hippie who liked bluegrass, newgrass, folk, and other acoustic music styles. Check it out!