Communications and Media
When the number of phone numbers in the city got too large for the 215 area code to accommodate, the 267 area code became a second Philadelphia area code. The number of public pay phones has decreased dramatically as it has in most places with the advent of cell phones. The few that still do exist cost $0.50 for local calls, and most accept coins and calling cards. Dial “1” before calling toll-free numbers (those starting with 800, 888, 877, etc.). Prepaid phone cards are available at many convenience stores and cell phone stores.
Many parts of Philadelphia are now served by Wireless Philadelphia (www.wirelessphiladelphia.org), a citywide initiative to provide wireless Internet access to everyone. The goal is to make Internet available throughout the entire city, and the coverage area is continually expanding. The program offers free wireless in several hot spots and community centers, and free or low-cost plans for individuals.
Free hot spots, some of which are already operational and others in the works, include: Love Park, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the “Historic Square Mile,” Penn’s Landing, Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, Hunting Park, Wissahickon Environmental Center, Pennypack Environmental Center, Bartram’s Garden, FDR Park, and Penn Treaty Park.
There has been much talk of Philadelphia becoming the first city to have free wireless service everywhere, but as of yet, it hasn’t happened. It isn’t difficult to find free wireless access at many coffee shops and libraries throughout the city.
If you don’t have your own computer, public libraries are a good option for residents, but aren’t much help to non-residents since you need a library card to access the system and only residents can obtain one. Many hotels and youth hostels have a computer available for free or cost for short-term use. The ING Direct Café (17th and Walnut Sts., 215/731-1410, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.) has computers available for Internet surfing.
Post offices are located all over the city and the main branch (2970 Market St., 215/895-8989) next to 30th Street Station has a limited-service window that stays open nightly until 10 p.m.
Newspapers and Periodicals
Philadelphia has two main daily newspapers, the Philadelphia Inquirer (www.philly.com) and the Daily News (www.philly.com/dailynews). The Inquirer is considered the more serious paper, offering balanced coverage of local, national, and international news. While its popularity and ratings wax and wane, it is often considered in the top tier of daily papers in the country. Check out the Friday “Weekend” supplement for listings of entertainment and events. The Daily News, not generally regarded as serious journalism, is concentrated mostly on local news, with extensive sports coverage; some locals are avid fans of the easy, fun read. The Metro (www.metro.com), a free daily available at many SEPTA stations, is filled with short snippets of news and entertainment that range from important to entertaining to completely inane.
Many locals, especially the younger set, get their information and news from the free alt weeklies PW (www.philadelphiaweekly.com) and City Paper (www.citypaper.net). Most stories are locally based, and both offer good listings of events, concerts, restaurants, bars, and more. You’ll find them in newspaper boxes all over Center City. While many locals have their favorite, the verdict isn’t out, and both are very popular. Philadelphia magazine (www.phillymag.com) is the award-winning monthly lifestyle magazine for the city and suburbs, sold at bookstores and newsstands. It is an entertaining read, offering a mix of interesting features, sensational local-interest stories, and useful service journalism. Many read it for its local style, dining, and arts and entertainment coverage. The Philadelphia Gay Times is geared towards issues, news, and events affecting the gay community and the Philadelphia Tribune is an African American weekly newspaper, the oldest of its kind in the country.
The Philadelphia Independent Media Center (www.phillyimc.org) is a grassroots news organization serving Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. It also serves as the local organizing unit of the global Indymedia network and was among the first of over 200 Indymedia centers in cities across the United States and worldwide. The organization’s goal is to create alternatives to corporate media, with a website, online radio station (Radio Volta), community center, performance space, and an upcoming newspaper.
The independent and world music station WXPN (88.5 FM) is a very popular local station operated out of World Café Live in University City. Here are some of the other local stations:
- news: WKYW (1060 AM)
- rock: WMMR (93.3 FM)
- classic rock: WYSP (94.1 FM) and WMGK (102.9 FM)
- oldies: WOGL (98.1 FM)
- top 40: WIOQ (102.1 FM)
- country: WXTU (92.5 FM)
- hip-hop and R&B: WUSL (98.9 FM)
- R&B and classic soul: WDAS (1480 AM)
- classic and jazz: WRTI (90.1 FM)
- smooth jazz: WJJZ (106.1 FM)
- National Public Radio: WHYY (91.0 FM)
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition