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Radio Free Athens

Eclectic, Local Radio

Adventurous. Unexpected. Fun. Now in its 12th year, Radio Free Athens is the best-kept secret on the airwaves.

Join the music-obsessed volunteers from the Athens arts, performance and festival scenes as they serve up a unique alternative to the usual AM radio fare.

Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., Radio Free Athens listeners will hear a great mix of rock and roll from its beginning to the present, as well as jazz, funk, punk, rockabilly, folk, hip hop, EDM, and genres that have yet to be named. Join our knowledgeable hosts and rediscover the art form that is live radio.


Geoff Backstrom was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is now in his senior year as an undergrad at Ohio University (currently proudly the youngest member of RFA) and studying Animation/Special Effects. At a young age Geoff began learning and playing percussion, and continues to this day. He also dabbles in some 'laptop music' under the alias Möbius B-Side. Geoff prides himself in his always-growing music library, and constantly brings new music to play on-air weekly while throwing genre boundaries out the window.

Dave Baer has been a fixture on the local music scene for years, playing guitar and bass for bands like Stella, Gravyland and The Lennon Orchestra. Join Dave for a mix of classic and modern rock, soul, blues and Americana.

Doug "Rat" Brooks, an avid lover and collector of all sorts of music, has been part of the Athens music scene for many years. His bands include Gravyland and the "performance art/musical act" known as Larry and the Lima Beans. Armed with hundreds of pieces of vinyl and CDs, listeners will hear anything from ABBA to Zappa.

Art Cromwell is a veteran radio and television producer whose experience includes Pacifica Radio in Washington, D.C, and PBS in Los Angeles. His Out of the Afternoon jazz show is a treasure - a comprehensive and entertaining journey through the jazz universe from New York, Chicago, and New Orleans to the European capitals. Art covers it all: Satchmo to Sun Ra, trad, swing, be-bop, cool or outside. Duke, Ella, Miles, Bird, Monk and ‘Trane are of course represented, as are their less well known but no-less influential sidemen and women.  Do not miss it.

Michael Gillespie is an avid listener of all music genres but jazz, hip-hop, rock, soul, funk, and alternative pop most especially. His radio shows are characterized by a mix of genres and styles with a genuine curiosity about the way that different forms of music interact.

James Hill is a native of Southeastern Ohio, raised on Paul Simon, The Eagles, The Statler Brothers, Elvis Presley, Alabama and Willie Nelson.  His tastes have branched out considerably since childhood. During any given hour you might hear post-punk or old-school blues or Navajo folk songs...or all three in rapid succession.  More often, however, he plays contemporary Americana, singer-songwriters and good pop music.

Adam Pergram is an OU Bobcat who's split the last ten years between the music towns of Athens and Nashville, and followed the southern rock band Widespread Panic all over the Midwest and Southeast. While his musical selections tip the scales as decidedly “rock n’ roll”, he also plays an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, soul/funk, and dance tunes. While there isn¹t a wide variety of country-western music on his shows, he's a sucker for anything and everything with a pedal steel. He also counts the local musical heroes, and the vibrant musical culture, of Athens, Georgia as a huge influence on his selections.

Jim Phillips has been the senior writer and reporter at The Athens News for more than 20 years. Local music buffs also know him as a talented singer-songwriter. Join Jim as shares his extensive collection of vinyl during a fun and eclectic show.

Michael Tedesco has championed underrepresented music on non-commercial radio on both coasts since 1980. In addition to stints as a guitar tech, tour manager, concert promoter and independent record label director in the 90s, he has also performed in the US and Europe as a guitarist with Robert Fripp & the League/Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists and Trap Door.

Transmitting from a tiny room in the Radio-Television Communications Center at Ohio University to listeners all over the planet, Radio Free Athens will surprise and delight you.