Second Place: 103.7 The River (WURV)
Third Place: WCVE-FM 88.9
Richmond's only independent radio station, WRIR-FM 97.3, hit the airwaves eight years ago. Since then it's become a consistent supporter of local artists and musicians, while dialing in a unique variety of community voices to Richmond ears. It's also one of the few stations in the country that airs Al Jazeera English. The low-power station's secret of success is its tie to the community, says Josh Bearman, secretary of the Virginia Center for the Public Press, the station's parent organization. "Every person who volunteers here — from DJs to talk hosts to the many essential behind-the-scenes players — does so because of his or her love of this town and the desire to make it a better place," he says. "We've all discovered the transformative power of community media, and I think we have gotten pretty good at communicating this power." In commercial radio, 103.7 The River has found a hook with its very-Richmond twist on hot adult contemporary. It recently experienced a ratings jump, and celebrates its third birthday with Innsbrook After Hours' Aug. 7 concert featuring Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Vertical Horizon, Fastball and the Gin Blossoms. On WCVE Public Radio, part of the Community Idea Stations, you can catch informative NPR and PBS programs as well as local shows featuring jazz, world and blues music.