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July 30, 2014
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What Affects FM Reception?


Power and proximity. You are more likely to receive a radio signal when that signal is strong and you are closer to the transmitter where it originates.

KCNV contours The signal for Classical 89.7 is relatively weak. Our coverage area is restricted by FCC regulations. Since we have to protect other stations and permits, our signal is as strong as it can be to fit in this area. (We're doing everything we can to increase the power.)

KCNV coverage The KCNV transmitter is located on top of Mt. Potosi, the 8,500 ft. mountain on the southwest side of the Las Vegas valley. As you can see from the coverage map, the signal is strong enough to be heard throughout most of the Las Vegas Valley. But, the closer you are to that blue line on the map, the more trouble you may have receiving 89.7.

All radio reception is not only affected by distance, but by physical obstacles and other broadcast signals. Often the handicaps imposed on radio signals can be lessened with relatively simple enhancements. Below are some general tips and a few examples of the kinds of antennas that may improve your reception.

Get an HD Radio

If you have trouble receiving Classical 89.7, but have a strong signal from News 88.9, HD Radio is the perfect solution! We are broadcasting classical music on the HD signals of both 88.9 and 89.7. With an HD radio you will be able to receive crystal clear classical music on 88.9 HD-2. Learn more about HD Radio.

How To Improve FM Reception

With their external antennas, car radios tend to receive FM radio best, but sound and signal quality varies from car to car. Cars that employ their rear window defrosters as 'antennas' may receive FM signals better than those with traditional external antennas. Some people may find improvement by replacing their factory-installed antenna with an aftermarket antenna of higher quality. Even relatively new cars can have faulty antennas. You may be able to receive many radio stations with stronger signals, but unable to receive 89.7. Check with your dealer or service tech to verify that the antenna and radio are operating properly.

FM signals travel from the transmitter to your radio directly and indirectly. If your radio can 'see' the top of Mt. Potosi, chances are it will receive the signal. Reception may be disturbed as a car moves from one location to another, passing in and out of areas where the signal is obstructed by power lines or tall buildings. The FM signal can travel through buildings and bounce around buildings, but that weakens the signal.

Portable and desktop radios often work well with FM broadcasts. Many contain internal, ferrite loop antennas; sometimes the power cord is also the antenna or they use telescoping antennas. These antennas are relatively directional, meaning that the quality of the received signal changes depending on where you put the radio or point the antenna. You may improve reception simply by moving your radio around until you are able to catch more of the signal. In some cases an external FM antenna may improve reception with a portable radio as it does with a component receiver.

When it comes to FM reception, not all component FM receivers are created equal. Some have built-in antennas; some do not. Many high-end receivers, however, do have an external connection for an FM loop antenna, which might have come with the receiver when you purchased it. If your stereo receives 89.7 poorly or not at all, you will need to install this loop antenna - usually a rectangular piece of plastic with two wires that connect to two screws on your receiver - and orient it appropriately for the best reception.

Better external loop antennas are also available. These are usually 8 to 12 inches in diameter and can be oriented and tuned just like you tune your radio to help eliminate nighttime interference and noise. Some must be hooked up directly to the external connections on your receiver; others need only be placed in close proximity to your receiver's existing FM antenna.

dipole antenna Most high-end component FM stereo receivers require an external antenna, and many manufacturers supply the simplest kind: a T-shaped, flexible wire antenna called a dipole antenna. Attach this to the receiver's antenna terminals and orient the dipole as needed for best reception. If the dipole offers no appreciable improvement, you may need an external antenna. Designed specifically for FM reception, these look like TV antennas and are usually installed on a roof, on the sides of buildings or in an attic. Again, after connecting the antenna to your receiver, orient it until you get the best reception.

Sources for FM Antennas

First, a word of caution: Make sure that any antenna you purchase is returnable if it does not give you the result you desire. That said, there are many sites both locally and on the Internet that offer antennas or the instructions necessary for building your own.

Radio Shack and similar electronics and hardware stores often stock antennas. A good FM loop antenna sells for $10 to $50 depending on features and looks. FM antennas are often available for prices that can range from $5 to $200 depending on the features you want. Often it is best to call around first to find someone knowledgeable about radio antennas. And there are also many online resources, including:

FM Reflect Antenna - $29.95 from NPR Online

Do an FM antenna search on Google http://www.google.com/

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