Joking aside, many of our Northern Community
live on the fringe... of our reception area,
of course! I include myself in that category
as I live outside of Bemidji where 91.7
starts to fade out as does 105.3 so I livee
with poor reception until we opened KBXE.
Radio reception has deteriorated from the
early days in the 1970's when really not
very many FM stations were broadcasting.
Now, the broadcasting stations are spaced
close together on the dial resulting in
interference with each other. Recently, a
religicaster has put up a translator in
Walker at 104.9 that sometimes over-rides
Bemidji's 105.3 signal. Couple that with a
general deterioration in the quality of FM
radios and you have "Perfect Storm" for poor
reception. But there's good news.... there
are 2 ways you can dramatically improve your
FM reception: 1) buy a good radio and
an antenna. Here's the skinny on both...
A good radio will make a dramatic difference
in your reception. The trick is finding a
good one because what you buy at the
discount stores is usually very poor. Here's
a list of table-top radios that sound great
and have excellent reception. You'll have to
find an online retailer to buy these from
because they are not carried in area stores.
Boston Acoustics Recepter Boston Acoustics
This is a combination digital alarm clock
and radio. It is perfect for your bedside.
Well built, great sound, great reception. It
runs about $150 just about everywhere you
buy it and is available directly from the
company itself, too. A word of caution: the
HD model that sells for around $300 is not
proving to be as good as the analog model so
buy the plain Recepter, not the Recepter HD.
Northern Community Radio does not broadcast an HD signal anyway
so there would be no advantage to using the
HD version of this radio.
Tivoli Model One
The Model One is a sweetie of simplicity. No
clocks to blink at you, analog tuning dial,
and it is a great radio for around $120.
Target just discontinued carrying these
radios, which is very disappointing. The
reception is on par with the BA Recepter but
the look is very different so pick what
suits you. Also, there is a Model Three,
which incorporates an analog alarm clock but
I don't like the fact that you have to
manually set the alarm each nite as you go
to bed, just like the old bedside clocks.
For me, this is a recipe for forgetting to
set it or waking up six times to check to
make sure you DID set it.
Sangean WR-1 Review of the radio
I have not personally tested this radio but
it is getting rave reviews
from those who
have. It has a cool look and a lighted slide
rule dial which is very retro. This radio
runs about $100 and has some nice back panel
features... headphone jack, option to run it
on 12v (great for sailboats), and an aux
input for your own device.
It is getting hard to buy just a plain FM
receiver without alot of video routing
features built in. A few exist but it is
okay to buy a receiver with "AV features"
even if you don't use them. Here is where
you may find something at a local
retailer/music store and there are some
things to look for:
- The all-in-one cubes with colored lights
typically bought at Target/Kmart/Walmart
have very poor radios and while may sound
good in the store, have poor reception.
- Look for a real receiver with a separate
antenna input, not the "rat tail" wire
hanging out the back. A modern digital tuner
may help keep adjacent stations from
bleeding into Northern Community Radio's signal if your old tuner
just isn't separating out the stations.
In addition to having a good radio, having
an antenna other than what came on the radio
will make a large difference in reception.
People have added antennas for TV reception
for years and the time has come to use one
for FM. Here's two commonly available types:
This is a flimsy piece of wire in a "T"
shape that can help reception over the
radio's own internal antenna. They don't
work miracles but they help and they are
very inexpensive.. like around $5 at Radio
Shack or just email me and I'll send you
one. The orientation of the T makes a
difference but there's often not much choice
on the wall as to which way to orient it.
This is the classic VHF television antenna
and infact, a TV antenna can work very well
if it is mounted on a rotor that can turn it
for best reception. These type of antennas
are VERY directional and really must be
aimed. Because they are directional, this
antenna can be very useful for reducing
interference from a strong station nearby
the KAXE frequency. There are also dedicated
FM antennas that perform much better than a
TV antenna as they are tuned to FM
frequencies. Some examples of dedicated FM
- Radio Shack model 15-2163
which may be in some stores locally for $26
but is discontinued
- Antennacraft FM6,
identical to the Radio Shack antenna and is
available widely online
- APS antennas for FM
- Winegard antennas
- Magna Dynalab
People have very mixed results with the
indoor, powered antennas sold for high
prices. My suggestion if you want one of
these is to buy it from a place that will
accept returns. There just isn't a
substitute for mounting an antenna as high
as possible and aiming it correctly.
One last item...there are radio now that
operate off of your household WiFi signal.
Since we've upgraded Northern Community
Radio's stream quality
and capacity, this may be a good alternative
especially if you live out of our signal
area, like in Germany. It may be the way of
the future for much of radio and Northern
Community Radio is
prepared for that leap. I haven't tried one
of these yet and there are many models out
now but readily available ones are these:
Dan Houg, Engineer
KAXE-FM 91.7 Grand Rapids, 90.5 Bagley, 105.3 Bemidji,
260 NE 2nd St.
Grand Rapids, MN 55744