Radio Renaissance

After some time spent learning about OTA TV, including the special connection it shares with antenna systems something clicked. Antenna technology is all the same. Find a frequency, match your antenna, and tune accordingly - but its hard to do if you don't know what to look for in a system.

Discovering FM Radio
My Television Antenna from Motrak in Quebec was very well suited to FM broadcasts, collecting the signals in VHF and UHF overlaps with commercial radio and even some Amateur bands.

There is no shortage of quality used receivers in Niagara, and in Welland there was one that fit the bill. An Akai AA-940 Radio Receiver, which included a signal strength meter and a tuning meter on the radio. The Signal Meter is a scale from zero to 5 where typically the closest stations have the highest ratings. The Tuning Meter kept me on track for signal clarity, as even though voices were louder when off tune the best quality experience came from a clear signal.

What did I listen to? At first I listened to 94.5 PBS, a classical station, which is among my favourites (Call 1-877-511-1017 to pledge). Later, I caught CFBU 103.7 the campus radio station from Brock University. I was the secretary of the Board of Directors with CFBU in 2006-2007, where I often voiced my concern that the station couldn't be heard in my home. Now I get CFBU and a host of other weaker stations.

Only one burden exists - my proximity to Giant FM 91.7. This station has been devouring additional stations around it with as much as a 3 station variation (89.3 - 92.5 FM are useless). If someone knows what to do about this, let me know.

Please Join me in listening in Niagara: (Expanded List)
088.7 Mhz - WBFO NPR Public Radio
094.5 Mhz - WNED PBS Classical
097.7 Mhz - HTZ FM Rock and Alternative
102.1 Mhz - The Edge (Canada)
103.3 Mhz - The Edge (USA)
103.7 Mhz - CFBU Campus and Community
107.9 Mhz - RockMusic Hamilton


Discovering AM Radio
I'm still working on improvements for AM reception, especially at the antenna level. Simple wire AM antenna can be very long when done properly. But even without a perfect antenna there are interesting stations with a very high broadcasting power.

As expected I've had some trouble with the Religious and Offensive broadcasts on AM Radio. Multiple stations seem to run Rush Limbaugh and other shows with political extremists.

After a while I found my way to NPR

Please join me in listening to: (Expanded List)
0930 Khz - WBEN Talk Radio
0970 Khz - WNED NPR News (PBS)


Discovering Shortwave and HAM (Amateur) Radio
I began listening to shortwave radio with equipment from a friend, this evolved quickly as I discovered that Local HAM operators are actually very important to the community.

Yes, that means that I am a HAM convert. It's not a surprise considering the strong connections between the open-source and HAM radio communities. If you want to be free to experiment technically and refrain from contributing to companies you hold a strong moral objection to then a HAM license is your key to a world of opportunities.

Digital Commercial Radio
I've seen some information about "HD Radio" coming from stations in the United States. In Canada the Best Buy and Future Shop stores had none of the devices found related to HD Radio that are found in similar online listings from Target, Best Buy USA, and Sears USA.

This may be like ongoing the ATSC tuner issue, where Canadian retailers choose to benefit by pushing Cable and Satellite services rather than supporting the large community using over the air services via antenna.

I will not look into this equipment until Canadian retailers, stations, or listeners address a need for digital mode radio on an open band. Sirius/XM is not an option, as it is subject to proprietary controls from a single vendor. Until then, I'll be listening to the stations seen above while I work.