Radio Reception Tips

Feb 26, 2020

If you are having trouble receiving WSCL 89.5 FM or WSDL 90.7 FM

First, take a look at your radio. What kind of antenna does it have? Many lower cost radios have either a telescoping rod antenna or simply use the AC power cord as the antenna. In either case, try extending the rod or the power cord out as much a possible and move it around until reception improves. If it is a portable radio, try different rooms in the house as well.

Typical indoor FM receive dipole antenna.

If you have a more expensive receiver or it is a tuner as part of your stereo system, it may have an external antenna input.  The days of running down to your local Radio Shack are gone, but you should be able to find a good FM dipole antenna online. A dipole antenna, when extended, looks like a letter “T”. Take care to purchase a dipole that has the correct connectors for your radio.  This may be anything from an F-type coaxial connecter similar to what connects to your television or simple U shaped lugs that connect to a screw type terminal.  Consult your owner’s manual if you are unsure of which type to purchase.

Speaking of purchases, you generally get what you pay for generally regarding radio reception. Delmarva Public Radio cannot make specific brand recommendations,  but we can tell you what to look for.  If you purchase online versus a store, try to get as much information regarding the antenna as possible.  A fifty dollar radio with only an AC cord antenna may not be much better at receiving weak signals than a fifteen dollar alarm clock radio.

If your radio/tuner has the capability, try changing the setting from stereo to mono. This can, in some cases, extend the range of a station by lowering the noise level (stereo hiss).

In our area, particularly in the spring and fall, Delmarva experiences more than our share of tropospheric ducting.  Tropospheric ducting occurs when there is a layer of warm air in the Earth’s troposphere at a higher temperature than the air directly above and below it.  It occurs when there are very warm days followed by very cool nights (like  spring and fall here ion Delmarva).  The layer of warm air acts as a conduit, or duct, causing the signal to bounce around and come down in areas much further than is normal. We once had a report from Nova Scotia that they were hearing WSCL!  The good news is that the phenomena tends not to last long- at most, a few days.

If you have problems recieivng us or simply have questions, call us at 410-543-6895.

Here are some useful links:

FM Broadcasting

Good FM reception tips from  North Country Public Radio.

North America East Coat Tropospheric Ducting Forecast