Enemies in your home or office are out to ruin your radio reception!
The following common household items all generate electrical trash that can hurt your radio reception. Individually, they don’t do a whole lot…but most homes have many of these items, often all turned on and running at once, add it adds up to causing a lot of annoying signal noise in your radio.
Turning OFF as many of these items as possible will lead to better reception of all radio stations
-CD players and/or recorders -VCRs -DVD players and/or recorders -Computers and monitor screens -Cable TV boxes -Satellite TV boxes -Video game systems -Microwave ovens (honest) -Halogen lights, especially those tall floor lamps with dimmer controls. -Light dimmer switches in general…including dimmers built into your walls.
Folks say FM radio doesn’t sound as good as it used to…well, very few of these items were common 20+ years ago, now most homes have multiple examples of each, all out to ruin the sound of FM (and AM) Radio!
If turning these items OFF is not practical, consider moving your radio away from as many of these noise-generating electronics as you can.
Location, Location, Location!!!!!!!
Concrete, brick and steel are enemies of radio signal. Naturally, if you have a radio in the center of a building made from these materials, radio reception will suffer.
In general, get your radio near a window. ANY window! Our KKRN 88.5 FM broadcasting tower is located on the east side of Round Mountain and west of Burney on Hatchet Mountain. For best results, place your radio near a window facing this direction. Then, work on the antenna….
Antennas matter, but almost nobody pays attention to them.
Most of the better FM radios and home stereos have some provision for an external antenna hook-up, and/or a built-in antenna rod or wire. The rod or wire may not be the prettiest thing, but, moving them around and/or stretching them out to their fullest often gives significant reception improvement.
FM radio signals travel in a wave about 6 feet wide. Extending the antenna rod or wire out fully will give better results. If that rod or wire is at least 3 feet long, all the better!
Contrary to popular belief, placing your radio’s rod-type antenna vertically usually does NOT improve FM reception. FM signals mostly travel horizontally, so, positioning the antenna rod or wire horizontally or diagonally will usually give better results than vertically.
Here are some economical FM antennas available at your neighborhood Radio Shack stores that are worth trying out:
CHEAP-O! This one ain’t pretty but can easily hide tacked-up behind an entertainment center, sofa, wardrobe cabinet, etc, and make a big difference on stereos or radios that has screw or spring-type antenna jacks on the back. It’s just a perfectly cut&trimmed antenna wire, tuned just for FM. Model 42-2385, just 4 bucks.
PRETTY & PRETTY EFFECTIVE! This one is neutrally attractive and works reasonably well with a little experimentation. Model 15-1843, just 10 bucks. The end of the hook-up wire has a “ cable TV” connector on the end. You’ll need to buy a 75-to-300 ohm adapter for use on most radios, also sold at Radio Shack for about 4 bucks.
RETRO-COOL! Yep, here’s the old-fashioned TV “rabbit ears” that also work really well for FM radio reception. People have forgotten just how capable these are, and, they’re retro-cool, too. Plus, they can come in handy for your TV when the cable system has an outage. Model 15-1864, just 10 bucks.
KILLER! OK, here’s the heavy artillery! 3 foot wide and over 5 feet long. Not for the faint of heart. Designed for rooftop mounting on a mast, but, also can just lay in the rafters of your attic if roof climbing isn’t your thing. This is VERY directional and will need careful pointing to get the best signal…or, if you set it up wrong, you can actually worsen the signal. But, set-up properly, it will give the best reception of anything out there…radio stations use these to get a reference-quality signal. Model 15-2163, 22 bucks…don’t forget hook-up wire.
Stereo ain’t always the best for a weak signal!
The FM Stereo system in use in this country is horribly flawed, and, has been since 1961 when FM stereo was invented. For years, FM was mono and had a clean, stable signal. The system for FM stereo we’ve stuck with for over 40 years actually weakens the signal and causes varying amounts of noise in radios, even under ideal situations.
But you CAN fight back in mono and get a cleaner signal…and you’ll sacrifice very little fidelity and get rid of much of the hiss and static.
Most stereo FM radios have the ability to switch between MONO FM and Stereo FM. Doesn’t matter how big or how small…a big home stereo, a boombox, walkman, office mini-stereo, even some car stereos…you’ll be amazed how much stronger and cleaner the signal suddenly becomes if you switch to MONO.
The switch might be labeled “stereo/mono” or “FM/FM stereo, or, mono may be selectable via the “FM MODE” button or switch. NOTE: Some radios may automatically revert back to STEREO when you change stations…so you may need to switch back to MONO each time…but it will be worth it.
SOME car radios have a selectable Stereo/MONO…others will automatically switch to MONO as a signal gets weaker…this “auto-mono” feature on most car stereos leads people to think car radios are “better” radios…no, they’re just “smarter.”
Who makes a good radio these days?
Sadly, the quality of radios has dropped significantly in the last decade. For a home stereo system, Yamaha, Denon, and Onkyo, and Pioneer components still pay some attention to their tuner sections, but they can be hit-or-miss.
There is an old-style portable radio for less than $75.00 that may be the best radio anywhere at any price: The GE Super Radio III, available at www.ccrane.com They don’t make’m like this anymore, get one before they kill it!
If all else fails, listen on-line!
Do you work in a dungeon? A subterranean bunker? Somewhere between the earths crust and mantle? A concrete hellhole, impervious to all forms of radio signals? Don’t despair, KKRN broadcasts on the internet…PC or Mac, listen in at www.kkrn.org no matter how low your work takes you!