BEST ROCK RADIO STATION 2004 | KCDX-FM 103.1 | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix
While many of the nation's fed-up rock radio listeners have been fleeing to satellite pay stations to escape commercials and obnoxious DJ banter, the Valley's classic-album-rock fans continue to get treated to the equivalent of Sirius' "deep cuts" channel, The Vault, without the $12.95-a-month subscription fee. Thanks to a mysterious radio station owner named Ted Tucker who, near as we can tell, likes sharing his personal collection of long-forgotten tracks from the golden era of "free-form" FM radio over one of several station bands he owns, KCDX is now, amazingly, in its third year of broadcasting wowzers by the likes of Procol Harum, The Band, and Traffic -- with the occasional Billy Joel or Men at Work megahit tossed in -- 100 percent commercial-free.

Recently, the station launched a sparse three-page Web site that keeps track of the songs just played and allows listeners to make requests via e-mail, but still reveals nothing about the station. No one knows how long it'll last, but for now, KCDX is like listening in on your favorite hippie uncle's quirky iPod library. Readers' Choice: KUPD-FM 97.9

A National Public Radio affiliate by day, KJZZ transforms into a chilled-out jazz station at the workweek witching hour of 7 p.m. Dominating the night is "Acoustic Jazz," a mix of jazz classics and newer traditional tracks, with silky-voiced local diva Blaise Lantana hosting the earlier segment and Paul Anderson, Michele Robins, Steve Conrad and Phil Pollard taking over in later slots. There's no time for the blues until the weekend, but two locally produced shows, Drew Verbis' Blues and Beyond, and Rhythm Room impresario Bob Corritore's Those Lowdown Blues (now in its 20th year), are always worth the wait. Readers' Choice: KJZZ-FM 91.5

Even if The Edge didn't use "Independent Radio" as its catch phrase, we'd still be able to hear it in the station's pleasantly unpredictable programming. We love it when radio catches us off guard -- a rare thing these days -- and Edge DJs aren't afraid to spin something by the Supersuckers or Echo and the Bunnymen along with the standard playlist faves ranging from pop-punk to alt-rock to neo-New Wave. Extra credit goes to the weeknight "Local Frequency" show, which gives much-deserved exposure to emerging Valley bands like Thousand Yard Stare, Girl Kicks Boy, and Before Braille. Readers' Choice: KEDJ-FM 103.9

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