Commercial radio stations suck because they pursue a strategy of playing down to the lowest common denominator for a particular (and usually make-believe) segment of the public. That means the rap stations ain’t slappin’ and the rock stations don’t roll. But KALX, UC Berkeley’s student-run radio at 90.7 on the FM dial, has a different mission. They play to the smartest, most curious and critical audiences, and they don’t limit themselves to artificial demographics. The station’s mandate to its DJs is that they play several different styles of music during each show, and that they always include new releases, so listening is a great way to expose yourself to sounds you probably haven’t heard before. After 56 years on air, KALX has come a long way from the tiny, homemade Cuban cigar box radio kit it was first broadcast from, but the station sounds as vital as ever, hidden as it is on a radio spectrum that’s unfortunately become more and more monotone.