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Radio Reception

FM radio signals travel best in a straight line. If you can see the transmitting antenna, you can usually get a good signal. Beyond that, FM reception can be a tricky 'dark art' but there are several simple things to try that may noticeably improve your reception.

The FM Antenna

The antenna is where the radio pulls the FM signal 'out of the air.' There are several different types of receiving antennas for FM radio. The antenna can be a piece of wire that comes out of the back of the radio; the "T" shaped wire antenna that comes with many hi-fi systems; an amplified antenna in various forms; or an outdoor antenna on a mast, similar to a TV antenna. The best antenna will be the one most appropriate for the receiving location.

Close In

If you are close in to the metro New York City Area, a short (3-foot) piece of wire will probably suffice. The position of the wire may, however, be critical and as with all antennas, ideally it should be as near a window as possible. If the window faces toward the transmitter's antenna (midtown New York City), all the better. Depending on the radio, it may already have a wire attached permanently or hooked to a screw on the back, usually labeled 'Antenna' or 'Ant.' or '75 Ohm.' Move the free end of the wire around to find the spot that sounds best.

Further Out

FM Reflect Antenna At a little distance away from the transmitter (5-10 miles), the "T" antenna becomes a minimum requirement. We have had good experience with this model from C Crane. This antenna should also be near or actually in the window, with the 'arms' of the "T" stretched out horizontally side to side. Once again, the best position will be found by listening and moving the antenna. You may need to step away from the antenna after you position it, because your body will tend to affect the reception. The "T" antenna will need a radio with two antenna terminals, (once again labeled 'Antenna' or 'Ant.' or possibly '300 Ohm'). If the radio only has a cable TV type ('coaxial' or '75 Ohm') connection, you'll need to go down to the nearest Radio Shack and purchase a "300 to 75 Ohm transformer," which will convert the two wires of the "T" to the proper connector type.

Fringe & Beyond

Once you get beyond 10 miles or so, reception can be a little more difficult, particularly around lots of buildings in an urban environment, or in a valley in rural or suburban areas. Since FM travels 'line-of-sight,' you are now getting to the point where the curvature of the Earth is getting in the way of clear reception. The only real answer to fuzzy reception is more height. The best solution will be an outside antenna, mounted on a mast and pointed to NYC. You may be able to find such an antenna at a retailer such as Radio Shack. We also like the products from Winegard.

WiFi Radio

If you still are not able to receive our terrestrial FM signal, consider using a wifi radio. These appliances utilize your existing internet connection (wirelessly, as the name implies, and often with a wired option as well) to connect to our webstream. Many retailers carry a variety of wifi radios to suit your needs. And most wifi radios have a station directory, making it very easy to find and listen to WBGO.

Experiencing signal interference? It may be a pirate radio broadcast

No swashbuckling experience is necessary to conquer radio piracy. If you’re new to the term, piracy in radio refers to signal interference by an unlicensed broadcaster. And if you’ve ever turned to your favorite radio (e.g. WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM!) only to hear what sounds like a different station, or an entirely different type of music, there is a chance you’ve picked up the signal of a "pirate" radio station. Click here to report radio piracy.