Radio Disney remains the best-known radio programming for kids, and that’s great. It’s nice that there’s kids radio at all, but by the fourth play of Selena Gomez’s Come & Get It, you’ve had enough. Let’s imagine a world in which maybe you don’t even want your 6-year-old listening to a song called Come & Get It. If you have Sirius XM, you can try Kids Place Live, the interactive station features awesome kids shows, music from local and regional artists, and a wide variety of characters younger kids can relate to. The parents get in on the jokes, too, as there are pop culture references aplenty.
But what if that’s not an option and your 6-year-old doesn’t want to listen to Car Talk? Though I can’t imagine why a kid wouldn’t want to listen to two guys banter about adequate ignition voltage and blown head gaskets?
Have you reached a stalemate? Is it time to accept that you and your child will forever have differing views on what is music and what is noise? That’s a slippery slope, my friend. First the kids’ music is noise, then you’re shouting at the roving gang of 10-year-old hooligans to get off your lawn. Then your hair goes gray, and you long for the good old days.
But don’t give up hope! Here are 5 streaming radio suggestions to try before surrendering to Selena and her cohorts.
1. Wonderground Radio 89.3 The Current
Wonderground Radio offers music that is for kids and adults to enjoy together. Note I said parents will enjoy, not put up with Wonderground Radio. The station plays everything from Sesame Street to the Rolling Stones. It’s a place where Feist mingles with Green Day. Trampled By Turtles, Wilco and Ziggy Marley act as great kid’s music that isn’t actually for kids.
DJ Amy Trulock is a master of providing what she calls, “entertaining nuggets to assist today’s cool parents (in all facets and definitions) in finding alternatives for the old stand-bys.” In college, Trulock hosted an alternative children’s radio show, so she knows her kid stuff. HYP (Hip Young Parent) plays The Muppets right alongside Will.i.am and does so flawlessly. Right now I’m listening to a song by Paul Westerberg called The Right to Arm Bears. That title, in and of itself, should get you listening.
3.NPR’s Classics for Kids
My mom used to be a BRAVO mom. What this means is that she would come into our classroom once a month and try to make classical music interesting. No small feat with a bunch of second graders. She would play Mozart, let us conduct with licorice stick batons and generally be loud. Then she would pull out the pièce de résistance: a book called The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. By the time she read the word underpants, we were in stitches. By “bra” we were suffering from totally uncontrollable fits of delight. I’m sure the teacher hated her. My mother is a genius.
Classics for Kids is kind of on-air version of BRAVO. There are no stuffy intros for boring composers here. Classics for Kids has a collection of awards to its name including a National Community Impact Award for Engagement by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in recognition of its innovative on-air and online services for children. Not too shabby. Here classical music is introduced along with stories and history about composers. The Website includes games, activity sheets and a composer time machine (the DeLorean of classical music), making Classics for Kids just as great in the classroom as it is in the car.
4. Voice America Kids
Voice America Kids is pint-sized talk radio. So if you’re trying to cultivate a little Ira Glass-loving, Radio Lab-listening, NPR devotee, here’s the place to start.
The best thing about Voice America Kids is that it really is for kids by kids. The hosts are young people talking about young people stuff. That’s not to say that us old folks won’t like it too. For instance, today the host talked about giving kids a voice in the face of bullying. She read her own poem about teasing and forgiveness that was actually witty and honest. It didn’t even have any kittens or unicorns in it.
The other thing my little heart pitter-patters for is that this is one kids’ station that speaks to tweens and teens. So much of youth programming is devoted to the toddling set. I like that someone has branched out into the unknown void that is adolescence. It’s a scary place, but Voice America Kids bravely leads us into the strange world composed mostly of hormones and Taylor Lautner. I’m impressed that they do so in a way that makes for some very high quality chitchat.
5. iQ Kids Radio
iQ Kids Radio definitely provides a diverse collection of kid-friendly songs, but what I like most about this program is that they go beyond that with interactive yoga, recipes, stories (often read by the kids who wrote them.) geography, history and science. iQ Kids even offers parent tips for the grown-ups. Everyone’s happy.
When a kid’s favorite words are ‘Again! Again!’ it matters what you expose them to and these stations have some pretty awesome options. Enjoy the music … and you’re welcome!