Imroved AM Reception

There are many factors that can affect the reception of AM signal. They include the environment, weather, location of the radio, and the antenna.

AM is strongest closest to the broadcast site. In this case, it’s at Old Town Valdez. As you get farther away, especially behind mountains and in valleys, the signal strength is weakened. The materials of the building housing your radio could be a factor, and the location of the radio in the building will also make a difference, as will what is around the radio. The antenna (or lack thereof) will also greatly affect the signal strength.

Most radios are designed for FM reception. Unless it’s a high quality radio designed for AM, any external antenna (such as a telescoping antenna) is probably for the FM. Moving that probably won’t do much. Most radios have an internal AM antenna, so you’ll have to move the whole radio to try to find a better signal. Many receivers that have AM/FM don’t have any internal antenna.

Lots of things can interfere with the signal. A very short list: fluorescent lights, touch/dimmer lamps, heaters, TV, computers, power lines, microwaves, cell phones, and chargers. Again, there is a lot that can interfere with the signal. Try turning things off around the radio to see if that helps. If so, move the radio or the object.

If it’s the environment, it’s a different problem. A mountain or building may limit what you can do. As important as KCHU may be, I don’t think we can move mountains or justify rebuilding your house with new materials. But you may be able to move the radio to find a better signal. Start simple by slowly turning the radio and listening for improvements. If that doesn’t work, try moving the radio to a different location. The best location is out in the open. Radio waves don’t like cramped areas. Brick and aluminum siding will block AM signals. Try moving the radio closer to a window. If this doesn’t help, you may need to get a better radio, or antenna.

AM antennas can be a big help, and sometimes can be as simple as wrapping a copper wire around the radio and across the room, or out the window. Try varying the length, because the length will affect the reception. This is hit and miss without some complex formulas, but can help clean up a marginal signal. TV antenna (rabbit ears) can also sometimes help. A good antenna specifically designed for AM might be required. They range in price and can be something that sits near the radio, or something mounted outside. Again, placement of the antenna is going to be critical in getting a good signal, the higher the better.

If these tips don’t help, feel free to contact us. We’ll need to know where you’re at, what you’re using, what you’ve tried, and what the quality of the signal is. Please call 835-5080, 1-800-478-5080, or email gm@kchu.org. We’ll do everything we can to help get you a better signal. On our to-do list is to purchase a variety of antennas and radios to take out and trouble shoot so you’ll know what will and won’t work before you purchase anything. We’ll make sure to let you know when we’re able to make those purchases.

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