SOMA FM: the Hackers Radio of Choice

For All Things IT Security Conference Related

Join Our Newsletter [Over 50K Subscribers]

Let us send you information on ticket discounts, speaking opportunities and a ton more!

Home / Blog / SOMA FM: the Hackers Radio of Choice

SOMA FM: the Hackers Radio of Choice

Tagged Under:

Very simply, SomaFM is the sickest station online.

SomaFM started broadcasting life at the Burning Man festival in 1999. The response to the project was positive enough to encourage the founder Rusty Hodge, to launch the station full time on the Internet. That was in February 2000. There have been a few ups and down but it still pumps out the best beats to work to, and by the looks and sounds of things, it is the hackers radio of choice, 100% our opinion of course!

According to their site, they get over 5.8 million “listener hours” a month, which makes them one of the larger internet-only broadcasters.

What’s up with the name: SomaFM?
Ever read Brave New World? No?, then do, because the answers to the quiz are in the book. Also, Rusty hails from San Francisco, so if anywhere in the US can name a radio station SomaFM, its’ going to have to be San Fran. In fact, the real truth about the name appears to be influenced from an area in San Fran: South of Market – i.e. SOuth MArket.

Hackers and SomaFM Radio
As we can see from the below laptop stickers there does seem to be a strong SomaFM following amongst hackers and programmers that listen to SomaFM, very likely because the station is not only commercial free, but also plays a wide variety of music genres from its ever growing list of stations. OK! several laptop stickers doesn’t mean that is has a loyal following from the hacking community – but what does – is their presence at DEFCON 21! Yes! Indeed!

This year, SomaFM is providing the music for the DEFCON Chill room from where they will be broadcasting starting August 1st, pretty amazing stuff and massive congratulations to the team (side note – you might be interested in our “Dear FBI, please don’t come to DEF CON 21. Thank You.” post).

Probably because the station is listener funded which embodies a hacker-esque ethos makes the station very popular amongst its’ listeners who, by the looks of it are equally as passionate as Rusty and the team. To see what we mean hit up their Flickr stream – it’s really impressive. Soma FM has over 20 stations (see below). Of interest, when SomaFM was launched their first station was Drone Zone followed by Groove Salad (our favorite here at Concise Courses) and the third was Secret Agent.

Here is a list of the SomaFM stations:

  • Groove Salad: ambient/electronica
  • Lush: electronica
  • Drone Zone: ambient
  • Folk Forward: folk/alternative
  • BAGeL Radio: alternative
  • Digitalis: electronica/alternative
  • Indie Pop Rocks!: alternative
  • PopTron: alternative
  • Sonic Universe: jazz
  • Covers: eclectic
  • Underground 80s: alternative/electronica
  • Secret Agent: lounge
  • Suburbs of Goa: world
  • Beat Blender: electronica
  • Dub Step Beyond: electronica
  • Space Station Soma: electronica
  • Mission Control: ambient/electronica
  • Boot Liquor: americana
  • Illinois Street Lounge: lounge
  • Tag’s Trip: electronica
  • cliqhop idm: electronica
  • Doomed: ambient/industrial
  • Black Rock FM: eclectic
  • SF 10-33: ambient/news
  • DEFCON Radio: Music for Hacking. From Def Con 21 in Las Vegas.

If we are not mistaken, BackTrack, the predecessor to Kali Linux, used to ship with SomaFM embedded in the browser (I think BackTrack 3 and 4 came with FireFox) – another cool fact.

SomaFM kicks ass and that’s that, nothing more to say.

Please donate here!

Perhaps its’ because a lot of us use computers all the time (yes, day and night) and we end up finding the soothing beats from SomaFM such a comfort that the station has been so widely accepted by the hacking community, but also, it is Rusty’s personality that has pushed the success of SomaFM. The fact that he got his radio career going by operating a neighborhood micropower station, and later making streams accessible over telephone hotlines, getting involved with computers by creating software for the Apple II to manage station playlists means that he is likely the biggest hacker amongst all of us!

Thanks Rusty. Keep it going!

What is your favorite show? How long have you been listening to SomaFM, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Leave a comment or reply below...thanks!