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How to improve AM reception
Better listening for WLCR AM 1040


Improving AM Reception In An Office Building

One of the toughest places to get radio reception is inside an office building. Construction materials, wiring and noise from computers, fluorescent lights and other devices can all combine to make radio reception almost impossible for you. In addition to the construction of the building, you sometimes have to take into account your location in a building. If you work in an office and have terrible radio reception, you don't have to settle. Here are some possible fixes for you:

Conventional Solution:

The simplest way to improve radio reception is to put a radio in a window.  If you've already tried that, you might want to go the next route, of running a wire from your radio to an antenna in a window or in an attic space. You could run cable along the floor through the ceiling. Running a coax cable (like TV cable) from your radio to a well-situated antenna might just do the trick. With AM reception the longer the antenna the better.  BUT in an office environment keeping the antenna away from noise makers is a must.  Noise makers include touch lamps, personal computers and the nemesis of AM reception...... fluorescent lighting.  If you live alone you might get away with stringing 50 or 100 feet of wire around the living room (but don't try this if you are married).

Conventional Solution

(some info via ccrane.com)

Some tricks

A very simple is to rotate the radio to the direction of the transmitter.  The WLCR transmitter is located just east of Shepherdsville KY.  In the average AM home radio the antenna for AM is a coil located in the rear of the radio.  This coil has several hundred feet (remember the longer the better) wound around an iron core.  If you are having reception problems sometimes simply turning the back of the radio toward Shepherdsville will do the trick.  For our listeners in Oldham County the back of the radio should be facing approxintely 210 degrees (SW).  For our listeners in Shelby County pointing  approximately 240 degrees (WSW) should do the trick.  Listening from downtown Louisville locations can sometimes be a bit trickier.  The wave may not get to  you the strongest in a straight line.  You may be able to better receive from a reflected signal.  So turn that radio around a bit until the signal peaks. If you're listening from southern Indiana pointing the radio south will help peak the signal for you.

If none of these tricks work for you there are some other solutions.  One possible solution is to amplify the incoming signal.  One of the amplifiers found on the internet is the 'AM Advantage'. There are several products similar to this one so look around and read the details.  One draw back from using amplifiers is they amplify everything including the noise.  So if noise is your problem... locate and eliminate the noise before you spend the dollars for the amplifier.  (By the way WLCR has no connection with the amplifier companies)

AM Advantage amplified antenna


Mobile reception


Receiving AM radio while mobile can present it's own special issues.  Modern cars are electrically noisy and the quality of the AM receivers in the car market has decreased over the years.  It seems that there has been significantly more attention paid to the FM side of car radios rather than the AM side.  And it matters little how high end or low end your car can be.  You can be driving a BMW or Chevrolet or Mercedes and each can present its' own reception issues.  Two of the largest noise makers in a car are electric fuel pumps and electric fan motors.  If you are experiencing a continuous noise in AM reception the culprit is more than likely one of the above.  If the problem changes in intensity as you accelerate or decelerate the problem is engine related.  It could be anything from the alternator charging the battery to parts of the anti-lock brake system.  Most auto manufacturers can provide information on noise suppression techniques. 

Occasionally there will be that irritating intermittent noise.  This can be from a number of sources but commonly come from wiper motors, air conditioning compressors or even your cell phone.  The first thing to do is to locate the culprit, then look for a solution.  One of the most common fixes is to place a .01 uf capacitor from the positive lead of the device to ground.  This should be done only by someone "in the know".  If you hook things up incorrectly damage to components can result.  If your signal comes and goes, especially while sitting still, check the antenna connections.  With the constant motion of the vehicle things get worn, torn and frayed.  The tighter the connections and cleaner the contacts the better the reception and the less noise introduced into the system.

Also quite often the noise doesn't interfere with the radio at all but with the speakers.  This can be fixed by using shielded cabling from the speaker outs on the radio to the speakers themselves AND place a .01 uf capacitor across the speakers leads.  This will hopefully shunt any extraneous signal off the coax speaker wire back to ground.  And the same is true in the mobile installation as in the home or office, the larger the antenna (also known as capture area) the better the signal.

Hopefully this has assisted in resolving some of your reception issues.  If you have a continuing problem you can email our local noise geek and maybe a little one on one explanation will help you hear and enjoy WLCR.  Our radio noise expert can be reached by clicking HERE.

This page is a work in progress, check back occasionally for more hints and tips to better hear AM radio.


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