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Monday, January 26, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Light Snow Fog/Mist
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Tips for exploring the outer reaches of the FM dial in Madison
Local radio 101
Brannan brings local and touring acts into the studio on WSUM Live Music Hour.

These days, Rihanna is nearly everywhere in Madison - everywhere you turn the radio dial, that is. Even if you're a fan of her dancehall-infused pop, you've got to get away before the repetition drives you crazy. Luckily, there's an escape hatch at your fingertips: Just direct your dial - or your web browser - to a local station such as 89.9 WORT FM or 91.7 WSUM FM.

Unlike most commercial stations, WORT and WSUM host their shows in real time. Plus, you can call in to talk to real, live DJs. With more than 300 programs to choose from, the only issue is where to start. Here are a few suggestions.

Back to the Country, WORT
Wednesdays, 9 a.m.

Whether you're new to twang or record every episode of the Grand Ole Opry, you'll get a country-music education from this engaging show. Country-music historian Bill Malone, a former Tulane University professor, chooses a different topic each week, delving into the roots of the genre and the personal histories of the artists who've shaped it.

Beats for the Bibliophile, WSUM
Fridays, 1 p.m.

On this one-hour show, Catie Rutledge reads literary quotes, then plays songs that exemplify their themes. It's unique, well executed and perfect for those who reread "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in their spare time.

WSUM Live Music Hour
Fridays, 3 p.m.

Founded by station alum Peter Allen and now helmed by Kelsey Brannan, WSUM Live Music Hour is a two-hour show that features on-air performances. Two to three artists - some local performers and some touring acts - visit the studio each week. Recent guests have included Sixpence None the Richer and fun.

Friday on My Mind, WORT
Fridays, 8 p.m.

Do you always choose the Beatles over the Stones on the jukebox? Have you ever claimed to be a walrus? Is your first-born son named Ringo? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the show for you. Tune in to hear deep cuts of Beatles material. Really deep, as in fan-club-only releases from days of yore.

Fresh Beats, WSUM
Fridays, 11 p.m.

DJ SBZ, WSUM's resident house-music expert, dives into various forms of electronic music, including techno, dubstep and hip-hop, for a full three hours. He even throws in some live mixing for good measure.

PanAfrica, WORT
Saturdays, 2 p.m.

Cheaper than an international flight and as portable as a passport, this program travels to different corners of Africa each week. Get a taste of traditional Kenyan music one show and Malian blues the next, along with information about the music's country of origin.

Other highlights

WSUM's schedule changes often, but you can rely on staples like Heavy Petting Zoo (Saturdays, 7 p.m.), when host Grandma Cyd plays "makeout music from the 1930s to '50s" for two hours. For a quirky diversion, check out Tom Waits and Tom Waits Play Tom Waits (Saturdays, 5 p.m.), in which two DJs do Tom Waits impressions while playing - you guessed it - Tom Waits songs.

Universal Soul Explosion (Saturdays, midnight) has attracted hip-hop fans to WORT for years, and I Like It Like That (Saturdays, 6 p.m.), Rockin' John's oldies show, has aired continuously since the station launched more than 30 years ago. It's worth giving both of these shows a try to see where they got their staying power.

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